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Asia Center of The Academy of Natural Sciences

Nomad Studies

Shirev Saruul

Research Objectives

  • Lifestyles and behavior of nomadic peoples in the Lake Hövsgöl watershed study areas
  • Animal husbandry methods, pasture usage methods and livelihood resources
  • Collect socio-economic data to determine how to improve the tradition of protecting the environment and economic livelihood of the nomadic herders and encourage sustainable management of pasture usage
  • How nomads resolve socio-economic issues and relate their lives to the environment
  • Correct pasture usage to protect animal husbandry risk
  • How nomads use natural resources to increase sources of their income.
  • Encourage local community involvement in a Herder NGO
  • Optimal land management versions that will lead to sustainable resource development
  • Analyze alternative pasture and resource usage from a cost-benefit perspective

Research activities

  • Project promotion activities. Distribute information, e.g., handbook on ‘Sustainable livelihood’ project and ‘News of Eastern Shore’ projects’ newspapers. We often meet with the representatives of Hanh soum and attend Ovoo Naadam to meet with herders and the Hanh Governor, the Bag leader and the Soum Hural of Citizens Representatives to introduce the Project and our team,
  • Develop questionnaire for discussions with all herder families
  • Herder NGO activities. Help organize meetings with local herders and discuss objectives and activities of the NGO. Work with members of NGO to check on local markets to obtain product costs in local towns. Help develop new markets for herder’s products.
  • Collection of historical data. Meet with Hanh government to obtain data on number of livestock and population changes from 1960 until the present. Mentors:
    • Dr. Bazargur (Institute of Geography, MAS)
    • Dr. Cynthia Werner (Texas A&M University)
    • Dr. Maria Fernandez Gutireaz (Colorado State Univ.)
  • Visit several places in USA to introduce project activities and receive academic advice from foreign mentors, including:
    • Academy of Natural Science of Philadelphia
    • University of Pennsylvania (Dr. Peter Petraitis)
    • National Science Foundation, Washington, DC
    • Colorado State University in Fort Collins (Dr. Maria Fernandez-Gutireaz)
    • Texas A&M University in College Station (Dr. Cynthia Werner)
    • Cambridge University in UK (Dr. David Sneath)

Activities and Results

  • Reviewing historical data on nomads of eastern shore (soum and bag data from Hanh and Moron¬, 1960 to present). We are interested in the period of Socialism to the present, how the herder’s migration from Darhad to the eastern shore occurred, and how and why the herders moved to the eastern shore of Lake Hövsgöl
  • Interview all families and determine family relationships within and between families.
  • Determined location of four seasonal camps, and distance of migration. Determined usage of hay and otor (winter grazing area in high mountains).
  • Determined location of areas where herders grow winter fodder for their livestock
  • Organized Turag NGO to support local people

Future Objectives:

  • Sustainable pasture usage and help reduce the negative impacts on the environment.
  • Develop management plans for protection of herders from natural risks, such as dzud and drought.
  • Improve nomads’ conditions of socio-economic, livelihood and identify new ways to increase their resources and income. For example, catching and selling smoked fish, collecting fruits, pine nuts, wooden furniture.
  • Review potential for ecotourism.
  • Protection of the environment. How do the herders relate to using natural resources? What percent of income do herders get from nature? Where are the most suitable markets?

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