One of the vets in our disaster response team, Damien Woodberry, has just returned from
"I have just got back from Dundgobi Province in Mongolia, where the landscape is literally littered with dead animals: cows, sheep, goats, yaks, horses and camels. It is horrific. Most the herders’ gers or yurts – semi-permanent tents that they live in - have a large pile of dead animals next to them, with other dead animals lying around the camp. The ones left alive are sick or so weak they barely move when you approach, and all are extremely thin.
I saw family after family in tears at the plight of their animals and the very uncertain future ahead of them. Many herders have lost 50-60% of their herds, while some have lost their entire herd and with it their livelihood. A humanitarian disaster is waiting.
Natsugdorj, one of the herders I visited, had a trophy proudly on display, declaring him the best herder of the district in 2007. But now, of the 150 animals in his herd, only 12 remain. And with no end to the dzud in sight, Natsugdorj faces an uphill struggle to keep these 12 animals alive. Even if he does, he may not be able to continue herding with so few animals and may have to sell the remaining few. With very few other employment opportunities in the province, Natsugdorj, along with many more like him, will most likely be forced to migrate to the slums of the capital Ulan Bator.
WSPA and our member society CAMDA have given 130 tonnes of concentrated fodder to herders in three districts of Dundgobi Province. In addition, we are currently buying 1.3 tonnes of milk powder to feed orphaned lambs and kids.
But even this may not be enough. There is still some feed available, but it is getting more scarce and expensive by the day. More aid is desperately needed to prevent the deaths of millions more animals and protect the livelihoods of the herders, like Natsugdorj, of Dundgobi Province. "