Ever Wonder What The World's Rarest Bear Looks Like? Better Hurry.

There's a unique bear out there in the Gobi Desert (with some super cute hedgehogs, btw). And these guys are trying to make sure it doesn't leave the party of existence early.

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Douglas Chadwick: Gobi Desert always reminds me that I live on a planet and it's built with stone. It's stripped down to wind and sky and blazing sun and a thousand different colors of rock. It's not the desert most people envision. 
It's rocks. It's tilted. It's anything but a sandy desert full of dunes. It goes on into China but the part we're looking at is just in the southern third of Mongolia. We travel all day and you've gone across three or four different mountain ranges or maybe you've gone across a dozen. 
And there's an endless number still in front of you. And you never see another soul. We're headed beyond the beyond to look at the Gobi Grizzly. This living the outer edge of the outer most edge of posibilities and there are two dozen and perhaps as many as three dozen left on the planet.
That's what's here in the Gobi Desert and only in the Gobi Desert. It may represent the oldest line of the Brown Bear that's existed continuously since the ancestral Brown Bear arose. In other words, we may be looking at the closest thing to the original Brown Bear and Grizzly, which is a fascinating thing to consider.
Male: So, here's what we got. A signal's been coming from over here.  Just, you know. Then we will go up close with...
Douglas Chadwick: And working very closely with Mongolian rangers, scientists and some of the people in the government. They started off as colleges and at this point they're friends. In each mountain range we end up putting traps at about four different springs. That's all we can get to. 
They're 10 to 20 miles apart and bouncing along in a Russian van it's [health or stealth] but it's sure not built for comfort. But, on the way we see the world's last Double Hump Bactrian Camels. We see Black-Tail Gazelles.  We see Argali Sheep.  We see Ibex, wild goats that are clambering around these rocks.
It's a feast of creatures that somehow bring one of the most barren looking geological landscapes amazingly alive, almost every day. And so, as is often the case if you're tying to save a charismatic, a totemic kind of animal like the bear. 
This amazing life form in the middle of the desert as you save it, you end up saving quite a majestic wildlife community. And much more varied and surprising than most people would ever imagine could exist in a place like the Gobi Desert. I think it's a good reason or a good part of why I keep coming back.
I mean when you get down to 20 or 30 animals, statistically their chances of making it aren't great.  Like you can't walk away from this kind of thing.  These are the rarest bear in the world.  They've got a lot to tell us about how to survive in one of the most extreme environments on the planet and you can't turn your back. 
You've got to give it a try.  So, we're a part of that team and we'll go out and try not to get lost.

There may be small errors in this transcript.

Thank you, National Geographic, for this great piece, but also for just all the great work you do educating us about the natural world. There's more about the world's rarest bear in an accompanying article.

May 07, 2014

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