Changing times for Mongolia nomads

A livestock herder from central Mongolia tells his story.

    The way off life for nomadic herdsmen on the plains of Mongolia has changed little in centuries

    At more than 1.5 million square kilometres, Mongolia is one of the largest and emptiest countries on Earth.


    Some 90 per cent of its territory is pasture or desert.


    The country's nomadic tribes have traditionally lived on agriculture and the herding of livestock.


    But these centuries-old traditions are in danger of dying out, as the once isolated country opens up and Mongolians aim for a better life for their children.


    One livestock herder in central Mongolia told Al Jazeera his story.


    First person

    My name is Sodnomdorj and I'm an animal herder from Arkhangai province in the centre of Mongolia.


    I’ve been herding livestock for more than 10 years since I finished school.


    The horses have all sorts of characters. Some of them are very easygoing; some of them are very temperamental.


    I start the day by taking the livestock to the pastures and bringing in the horses.


    Then I milk the mares, catch the stallions for training and look after them.


    Then I herd the sheep and goats. That's the sort of thing I do.


    I have two children, a girl and a boy. I want them to be well educated and I want them to have some other skill apart from herding.


    They need all sorts of skills and education; they need to know foreign languages, in case they have to go overseas.


    I'm just a herder, but I would like to educate my children well.


    Time to recharge


    In the morning when the sun comes up I put up a solar panel outside our home.


    It recharges the batteries that power the TV and the lights, and I can also recharge my mobile phone.


    Mongolia is a great country. In other countries it seems there are lots of things going on – it's very tough.


    Denmark, England, France, Australia - those people seem to have a very difficult life.


    But everything here is so good. It seems tough abroad because there are wars and other things.


    Here in Mongolia there's nothing like that. Everything is fine, that's all I know.


    A herder's life does have a difficult side too.  In the winter it's very cold, and you wonder how you can do it.


    In the spring also you're also wondering whether the livestock will survive.


    Sometimes you start to think of moving to the city.


    So there are two sides to my life, but what keeps me doing it is that I get to see the four seasons rolling by.



    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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