A Changing Way of Life for Mongolia’s Dukha Reindeer Herders

In north central Mongolia, in the taiga along the border with Russia, the Dukha people have lived a nomadic life for generations, roaming with their reindeer herds and hunting to fill in a diet based largely on reindeer milk. Reuters photographer Thomas Peter traveled to Mongolia’s Khovsgol Aimag, near the village of Tsagaannuur, to spend time with several Dukha families, as their traditional culture is facing serious challenges. Peter says: “The Dukha fear they are losing their identity in the face of a conservation order by the government that bans unlicensed hunting on most of their traditional land.” Six years ago, the Mongolian government added most of the Dukha's herding grounds to a national park, aiming to stop unregulated hunting that had caused serious damage over previous decades. A stipend is being paid to families affected, and some have used that money to leave the nomadic life and move to villages where the next generation spends their day with peers in houses and classrooms, instead of with reindeer in tents and forests.

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