Perils of Nature - Pinedale Online News, Wyoming
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Pinedale Online > News > February 2013 > Portraits of Pastoralism project launched > Perils of Nature
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Perils of Nature. Photo by Cat Urbigkit.
© Photo by Cat Urbigkit
Perils of Nature

Adoption of Mongolia’s new constitution in 1992 brought the end of state-owned farms of the socialist era, and freedom to inhabitants of this country that boasts the lowest human population density of any in the world. The winter of 2009/2010 brought the "white death" – a drought followed by heavy snows and frigid temperatures (called "dzud" in Mongolian) for an extended period of time. More than 8 million head of livestock perished – 20 percent of the nation’s livestock herds. Since Mongolia’s pastoralists live a subsistence lifestyle, the dzud created a humanitarian crisis, with relief organizations stepping in to ensure food distribution to those affected. Yaks are well suited for surviving the severe conditions associated with Mongolia’s winters. Livestock in this country provide for nearly all needs of pastoral families: milk and meat; cashmere and other fibers for clothing; dung provides fuels for fires; and the animals provide for draught and transportation as well. More than 80 percent of Mongolia’s landmass is used for livestock grazing, a practice at least 1,000 years old in this region.

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