Ulaan Taiga Protected Areas, Mongolia
I’ve been working in conservation for more than 27 years. I was born and raised in Darkhad Valley at foothills of Horidal Saridag Mountains. When I turned 7, my father started taking him to the wilderness and we explored this infinite Taiga together. I have 10 siblings and very early in life, I learnt how to be independent and hardworking.
In 1987, after graduating college, I was under a review at the Ministry – waiting to be accepted for my new position with the government. The process took longer than I expected. The city life was overwhelming. I missed home; I missed my Taiga. One night, I heard a horse neigh and woke up next morning to find out that I was appointed to protect Lake Hovsgol. 27 years have passed and I am proud to be where I belong and doing what I love. Throughout these years, I covered 880,000km [547,000 miles] by car, 168,000km [104,400 miles] on a horseback, 32,000km [20,000 miles] on foot, 5,600km [3,500 miles] on my skates, 750km [470 miles] on a reindeer and to spend 5,400 days in wilderness patrolling the parks.
I was born and raised in Taiga. I am a reindeer herder (Tsaatan). I used to hunt and sell animal raw materials for living. I took the wilderness and wildlife for granted. As I got older, I realized the uniqueness of my culture, beauty of the wilderness and significance of wildlife. Therefore, I became a ranger. Tsaatan people used to live off of hunting and I knew I would face challenges to bring changes to the community. I kept on doing my best and in 2013, no poaching took place in Taiga.
But we had to deal with illegal artisanal miners. By 2008, there were 7000 of them digging for gold, but we were driven to chase them out in order to preserve one of the last pristine valleys of Taiga. We made history; we stopped them. I patrol 306,000 acres of Tengis Shishgid National Park.
I started hunting since I was 11 years old. I learnt from the best hunters in town. Years ago, a tragedy happened in Renchinlhumbe soum. A bear broke into a home and killed 3 family members. I got together with some members of the community and chased the bear. Prior to 1990, people hunted for their living. Since the transition to market economy, people started hunting for greed.
Nature has granted me with many blessings. It hurt my feelings to see people taking the nature for granted. I needed to take action. I formed a movement to fight against mining licenses and was able to chase them out of my people’s land. I’ve been working as a ranger for 19 years. Compare to 1990, the population of wildlife in my area have increased by 5 times. I patrol 38,500 hectares [95 thousand acres] of the protected area.
Before establishment of the Ulaan Taiga Specially Protected Areas Administration, there were 7000 artisanal miners in Ulaan Taiga (Red Taiga). I was a poacher and miner. But I started questioning the importance of life and value of nature. I’ve done so many things in life and realized I have never done anything to protect nature. It was time. I did not want my birthplace to disappear in front of my eyes and I did not want to regret. I needed a change. When the protected areas administration was established, I applied to become a ranger.
Our fellow rangers and I were successful in chasing out all the illegal miners and we are doing our best to stop poaching completely in Taiga. I patrol 124,000 hectares [over 306 thousand acres].
Years ago, I was attacked by a bear while collecting berries in the forest. I fought for my survival and it spared my life. Since then, I praise “Mother Nature” and made a promise to preserve my country for future generations. Now as a ranger, I work with community members in introducing them to the significance of our work.
My aspiration is to expand the territory of our protected areas, so more places will be protected in the future. I patrol 124,000 hectares [over 306 thousand acres] of Tengis Shishgid National Park.
People know me as not being able to hurt a fly. I grew up with a deep passion for nature. I could never comprehend as my friends got into hunting games. I wanted to stop poaching. I simply followed my passion and became a ranger. I’ve been working as a ranger for 9 years. I patrol 38,000 hectares [94 thousand acres] of my beautiful country.
Four years ago, on September 9, I brought together 52 community members to stand against the Ider Murun mining company. Even though we succeeded, I knew it was not over. When the Ulaan Taiga Protected Areas Administration was established, I decided to become a ranger. I patrol 37,000 hectares [92 thousand acres] of the protected area and within a year, we decreased number of poaching dramatically and all 7 cases were caught.
Growing up, I was told not to make the spirits of water angry by polluting the rivers and springs. The year that I graduated from secondary school, artisanal miners discovered gold in Altrag River, our main drinking water source. Before you know it, our river was turning into a black mud. That led me to organize a student movement to fight against illegal artisanal miners and it was a success.
Ever since then, I have devoted my life to become a ranger and I am proud to say that there is no miner left in Bayanzurkh soum. I patrol 60,000 hectares [over 148 thousand acres] of the protected area.
Just recently, some rich and powerful were illegally fishing Taimen, the biggest trout in the world. Once they saw me, they ran towards their helicopter. However, I was able to capture them on the spot. I used to be a herdsman but decided to become a ranger to contribute in preservation of my country.
My nickname is “Citizen’s Registrar” because I happen to know full names and date of births of everyone in 4 soums of Darkhad Valley. I’d like to think that it helps me to do my job well. I was one of the first rangers to patrol the Horidal Saridag Strictly Protected Area. I patrol 62,000 hectares [~ 153,000 acres]. I am also very proud to be part of the team who reclaimed the territory from the artisanal miners.
I was inspired to become a ranger by trying to find ways to lessen a human impact on the environment. I am proud that I built my own ranger station in the mountains and I patrol 38,000 hectares [94 thousand acres] of Horidol Saridag Strictly Protected Area.
I wasted most of my young adulthood to drinking. When gold was discovered in Ulaan-Uul soum, I was one of the first “ninjas” to dig for gold. As a leader, I knew every “ninja” in the area. I cannot forget that day when I looked around and I could not recognize my country. It lost its beauty and I felt responsible. I quit drinking and promised to overcome my weaknesses. It was my time to give back. I am thankful that I was trusted to become a ranger and I strive to be a role model to our younger generation. Since I became a ranger, I was heavily involved in chasing out the “ninjas” out of the beautiful valley and led the reclamation initiative carried out by the administration. I am proud to patrol 63,000 hectares [over 155 thousand acres].
Note: “Ninja” is a nickname for illegal artisanal miners.
I used to be a famous hunter of our region. While studying in Moscow, Russia, I fell very ill, and returned back home. My parents were very spiritual. Upon my return, my parents asked a local shaman for the cause of my illness. They found out that the spirits of nature were angry that I’d hunted so many of its wild animals. It was an eye opening experience for me. Therefore, I’ve been working as a ranger since 2006.
As a ranger, I started an initiative to reintroduce marmot population and replantation of wild onions in the region. I patrol 63,000 hectares [over 155 thousand acres] of the protected area.
My grandfather used to be a hunter. However, at the time, hunting was for sustenance. We used to see deer and elk wander around soum center and everywhere in the mountains. But when people started seeing wildlife as way of making money, it has dramatically affected its population. I’ve been working as a ranger for 16 years now. I patrol 37,400 hectares [92 thousand acres] of the protected area.
I was concerned when the artisanal miners in Ulaan-Uul soum discovered gold and the deterioration of nature became so vivid. When the Ulaan Taiga Protected Areas Administration was established in 2012, the opportunity presented to me to become a ranger. There was no turning back. Now, as a ranger of my homeland, I patrol 61,000 hectares [~150,000 acres). Last year, I took part in chasing out the artisanal miners and started the reclamation process.
I started my career as a Cinema Mechanic. I traveled around showing and promoting international and national films, history, culture, religions, traditions and legends of people. It helped me to develop a deep passion for nature and connection to people. When Mongolia transitioned to market economy in 1990s, people started exploiting the nature and environment. I witnessed illegal logging, depletion of rivers and lakes, poaching and greediness of artisanal miners in our Taiga region. As the condition worsened, I wanted to strengthen my devotion to nature by becoming a ranger and promised to make a difference.
When I was 10 years old, I won a competition on “Mother Nature”. This opportunity definitely motivated me to work in conservation. Now as a local ranger, I work with school children to increase their participation in environmental protection. I strongly believe in community-based conservation and work with local cooperatives. I patrol 63,000 hectares [over 155 thousand acres] of the protected area.
Prior to joining the Tengis Shishged National Park, I spent 20 years herding livestock. I had a pleasure of seeing some of the most beautiful sceneries of nature and some of the rare species of flora and fauna of my birthplace. I’ve been working to raise awareness among local people by introducing alternatives to make a living without harming natural wonders. Although, it is very difficult to access our Tengis Shishged National Park, it is a beautiful place with high mountains and wide rivers and it’s home to 6 world-endangered species of animals. I am a proud ranger to patrol this beautiful place on a horseback, on foot and as well as on a back of a reindeer.
I was a local businessman. I used to buy endangered Taimen fish from my fellow community members by truckloads and resell them. It was not long before I realized I was hurting the nature. When the Tengis Shishgid National Park was established, I applied to become a ranger. Now, as a ranger, I strive to work with our local community members promoting community based conservation and sustainable tourism development. I patrol 124 thousand hectares (306 thousand acres) of Tengis-Shishged National Park.
I was born into a nomadic family and I was a herder. One time, I found an Argali sheep hidden amongst my herd of sheep. It was a very cold winter. I cared for the Argali until spring and let it go into the wild. Ever since, I was inspired to become a ranger and work to protect wildlife. I’ve been working as a ranger for 12 years now and I patrol 38,000 hectares [94 thousand acres] of Horidol Saridag Strictly Protected Area.