Mongolia Bankhar Dog Project media inquiries please contact our Media Coodinator: Petra Elfström using the form below
Our staff and board are available for interviews, and in some circumstances, to host site visits in Mongolia upon request.
Photos of our dogs, staff and programs available by downloading from the photo galleries on our website. High resolution photos available upon request. Please attribute all photos to The Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project unless otherwise attributed on the photograph concerned.
Brief history of Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project
Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project was founded in 2011 after Executive Director Bruce Elfström first became aware of the environmental challenges the nomadic herders of Mongolia face on a daily basis. The interconnection of pastoral nomads, predator prey relationships, and how this all affects desertification fascinated him. Bruce began talking to herders and researching livestock protection dogs as a missing link in the complex conservation puzzle. He realized that this was a historical solution to a highly modern problem. Discovering several families still using the original Bankhar dogs in remote areas of Mongolia, Bruce founded Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project in 2011 to put this research into practice.
The MBDP team set out to some of the remotest areas of Mongolia to perform DNA analysis to pick a breeding group that would curtail inbreeding and enhance the gene diversity of Bankhar. The organization then acquired land outside of UlaanBataar and designed and constructed large enclosures following best practices for livestock protection dog husbandry. The first litters of pups were born in January 2015 and have been in rigorous training and bonding program with sheep since birth. In spring 2015, pups will be placed with Mongolian partner organizations Terelj National Park and Hutsai National Park who will place dogs with nomadic families according to MBDP’s rigorous family selection criteria.
Quick facts about livestock protection dogs and Bankhar
- One single predator like a snow leopard can kill up to 40% of a herder’s flock in Mongolia over the course of a season
- Mongolian nomadic herding families make an average of $3/day
- In a program similar to ours in South Africa, use of livestock protection dogs was show to reduce depredation by at least 33 percent at every participating farm and eliminated completely at more than 90 percent of farms
- In North America, a study showed that livestock protection dogs reduced predation by 64%, and in one year, 53% of producers with LPDs had depredation losses reduced to zero.
- Bankhar dogs are an ancient landrace, not a breed but a type of dog shaped through thousands of years of co-evolution with humans driven by the need for an effective guardian of livestock on the Mongolian steppe.
- Males average 120 lbs and 30 inches at shoulder. Females average 100 lbs. Bankhar have heavy fur to protect them from the harsh Mongolian climate, as Mongolia is the coldest place on earth where livestock protection dogs are used. It’s not uncommon for Bankhar to live to 17 years old. Traditionally they eat a diet of herders’ leftovers—sheep innards, whey, noodles, and bones.