Members of Conservation-based organization is running a small business while protecting their lands.
Community-based organization Members of Conservation-based organization is running a small business to support their livelihood and reduce the number of livestock for against overgrazing issue in Mongolia © Bayanjargal Batbayar/TNC

News and Stories

Not a herder with a thousand livestock, but a millionaire

As the degradation of Mongolia’s pastures increased, herders shifted to an environmentally friendly and responsible attitude and began to look for ways to keep their livestock numbers at a reasonable level and increase their income. An example of this is the fellowship of herders, who united their families to support each other in order to earn their living from a small number of livestock.

The Jargalant Orgil community-based organization (CBO), founded in 2005 in Khovd province, has nine active households. The advantage of this cooperation was pointed out as “Community members support each other by uniting together in combing goats and building fences for livestock. We also make animal products to increase our household income,” by Ts. Bujinlkham, who has been leading the fellowship since 2010.

The members of the Jargalant Orgil fellowship make felt rugs, mats, souvenirs, and leather products from animal raw materials and sell them with value-added taxes added on. While there is a household with 2,000 animals whose income is mainly derived from goat’s wool, Ts. Bujinlkham’s household has about 400 animals, but its annual income is more than 15 million MNT. According to the “Income and Employment Survey of Herders” made in 2023, the annual agricultural production income of households with 201-500 livestock is 7.2 million MNT, while Ts. Bujinlkham’s income is twice as much (15.9 million MNT) or equivalent to a household with a thousand livestock.

made by CBO members.
Toys made by CBO members. © Bayanjargal Batbayar/TNC

Family income increases fifty-fold through a herder cooperative

Herder Ts. Bujinlkham said, “A felt rug is made with 5 kg of sheep’s wool. Selling this amount of wool without processing it will earn approximately 10,000 MNT. However, our families wash and comb the wool ourselves, make the rug by machine, and sell it for 450,000 MNT. At this time when livestock is devalued in the economic market, instead of having a thousand livestock, it’s better to have 300-400 livestock, be hardworking, and sell 1 kg of wool for 100,000 MNT.”

She also said that while cowhide costs 10,000 to 40,000 MNT depending on its size, it is possible to make bridles and other leather products and get a maximum profit of 400,000 MNT by processing them themselves.

Community Members Invest and participate in Nature Conservation

Within the Jargalant Orgil community-based organization, a portion of the income derived from high-quality livestock grazing is allocated towards nature conservation initiatives. For example, they clean up garbage around the springs, collaborate with preservationists to provide fodder and salt to local wild animals, and gift hand-made products during lake sacrifices, says Ts. Bujinlkham. In addition, an activist preservationist among the members of the fellowship monitors and reports on the movement of wild animals, poaching, and grazing. Measures are taken and implemented by the members accordingly.

TNC is working to protect snow leopards through our protected area management work.
The elusive snow leopard TNC is working to protect snow leopards through our protected area management work. © D. Tseveenravdan

The Nature Conservancy (TNC), which has been working to protect biodiversity since 2008, has implemented several initiatives against pasture degradation, including keeping livestock at an appropriate level, providing training in conservation and business skills to increase herders’ incomes, and providing equipment and resources. In this way, 281 herders’ fellowships and more than 5300 herders’ households have been supported over the past seven years.

According to Tsevelmaa, the local coordinator of The Nature Conservancy Mongolia (TNC) organization in Khovd province, “We announce micro-project competitions among the local community and provide non-refundable funding. The aim is to increase non-livestock income and bring an appropriate number of livestock up to the level of grazing capacity.”

Eternal Mongolia initiative will support herder households through a sustainable natural resource management

Within the framework of the “Eternal Mongolia” project finance for permanence (PFP), which will be jointly implemented by the Government of Mongolia, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, TNC, and other governmental and non-governmental nature conservation organizations, a total of 198 million US dollars will be allocated for the protection of ecologically important areas, an increase of management results and support for the livelihood of herder households over the next 15 years.

Quote: Munkh-Orgil Khurelchudur

We are committed to implementing the community-based natural resource management strategy. This approach prioritizes a human rights-based approach by respecting the rights of local communities and guaranteeing their rights related to natural resources.

Community Engagement Coordinator of Eternal Mongolia PFP

Specifically, we will continue to support and cooperate with herders’ households who wish to contribute to nature conservation by adjusting the number of livestock to pasture capacity and increasing their non-livestock income through the “Eternal Mongolia” PFP.