Withstanding the elements is a huge part of life in Mongolia. Due to severe drought this Summer and high snowfall this Winter, The International Federation of Red Cross estimates 40 percent of the country is experiencing extreme risk of dzud and about 20 percent of the country with high risk of dzud. While dzud is expected to some degree because the weather patterns of Mongolia are quite harsh and somewhat cyclical, climate change and periodic inability for herders to prepare adequate resources exacerbate the hardship and balloon the number of livestock lost and Mongolian families put at great risk. (What is dzud? – Read more about this Mongolian phenomenon here at the Mongolian Observer).
Besides the widespread issues associated with wintertime and dzud in Mongolia, the difficult weather conditions also have immediate implications for our program, and all types of conservation work that require access to the countryside. Earlier this month, our resourceful and resilient Project Scientist, Batbaatar, got stuck in deep snow while bringing a delivery of dog food to the MBDP facility about two hours West of Ulaanbaatar. Trying to escape the snow, the clutch on our Ford Ranger finally gave out, leaving Batbaatar to walk ten miles out of the deep snow to get help.
He made it safely out, returning the next day with his brother, Batnasan, to repair the truck. No small feat! They replaced the clutch entirely in the field, still knee-deep in snow.
This experience goes to show how a routine trip to the facility can turn into an enormous amount of effort for our team, and a great expense to our project. A larger part of our operating budget goes to expenses like this one that cost around $3,000.