• Nadaam in Bayan-Ölgii Province

    Nadaam, a midsummer festival that falls in the middle of July each year, is a national holiday in Mongolia. Much of the country takes the week off and travels to or from the countryside to be with family. One of the biggest holidays in Mongolia, it is celebrated with busy ceremonies,

  • Gobi Pupdates

    The team is back after a successful trip to the South Gobi! The Gobi was not like I imagined–no sand dunes and cacti. Dunes can be found in the Gobi, but they are more west, hopefully we will hit them later this summer. Instead, vast gravely, dusty plains dotted with

  • We take good care of our Pups!

    After car troubles grounded us to the city for a delay of over a week, Baagii, Trisha, and I finally made our way back to the breeding facilities to do some field work, mainly taking good care of the dogs in our breeding program.  First, we measured and weighed the

  • Thank you from Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project!

    All of us on the Mongolian Bankhar Project team would like to thank our followers, especially our supporting donors who generously contributed to our Indiegogo last year. You’ve seen a bit of what we have done with your donations, but there’s so much more behind the scenes that we are

  • Notes from the Field – 6/7/2017 – My First Week

    I walked through Customs in Mongolia’s Chinggis Khaan International Airport on May 31st bleary but wide, bright eyed, and with an excited, nervous grin on my face into the welcoming handshake of Baatbaatar (Baagii), the leading member of the MBDP ground team. He delivered me to my apartment, where I

  • Bruce Elfström Interviewed on The Current

    The Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project founder and director Bruce Elfström was features this week on  Canadian public radio show The Current. Check it out here! The full show covered a number of different stories, but the segment on dogs begins around 50 minutes in. Bruce is interviewed beginning at 53:20.

  • Notes From the Field 3-24-17 Trip to Nomgon Part II

    Too much happened to fit in one blog post! In our last NFtF you read about our trip with WCS Mongolia, a bit about how cooperatives work in Mongolia, and how two of our Bankhars are doing. The rest of the week we spent based out of Nomgon visiting herders

  • Notes From the Field – 3-23-17 A Trip to Nomgon Part I

    Hey friends! Batbaatar and I just returned from an action-packed trip to Nomgon in South Gobi. We are fortunate enough to be partnered with WCS Mongolia and teamed up with them for this trip; while we conducted interviews of families to receive Bankhar puppies, they collected cashmere samples from herders

  • Notes From the Field – 3-23-17 A Trip to Nomgon Part I

    Hey friends! Batbaatar and I just returned from an action-packed trip to Nomgon in South Gobi. We are fortunate enough to be partnered with WCS Mongolia and teamed up with them for this trip; while we conducted interviews of families to receive Bankhar puppies, they collected cashmere samples from herders

  • Two Months Old! And the dogs receive a gift

    The youngest of our pups turn two months this week! A lot goes in to becoming a livestock guardian dog, and they’re already on their way. As you can see in some of previous posts, all of the pups are kept in the same enclosure with sheep and goats from

  • Future Livestock Guardians

    One of the best parts of working on MBDP is getting to see the whole process of Bankhar being born, growing up, developing their personalities, bonding with livestock, and transforming from small, delicate pups into strong, healthy, intelligent adults. Certainly humans have had an age-old bond with dogs, and I

  • Meet Blondie

    Name: Blondie Sex: Female Height (cm/inches) : 65/25.6 Weight (kilos/lbs): 38.1/84 Meaning of Name: She has lighter coloring than the traditional bankhar coat Approximate age: ~7 years Bred with: Bred with Baavgai 2016 Personality: Blondie is large and in charge – she has a alpha personality She has a lot of energy

  • Meet Spork

    Name: Spork Sex: Female Height (cm/inches) : 64/25.2 Weight (kilos/lbs): 30.4/67 Meaning of Name: a very useful hybrid utensil Approximate age: ~7 years Personality: Spork loves to play and be pet, even with strangers If you sit on the ground with her, she liked to cuddle and insists that you scratch her

  • Roads and Kingdoms – The Return of the Guardian Dogs of the Steppes

    BY ANNE BAILEY AND SHANE THOMAS MCMILLAN with Roads and Kingdoms The question seems pretty straightforward. “Could we film your dogs while they’re guarding the sheep?” But herder Nergui Batdelger looks hesitant. These are working dogs, she reminds us. Their first social interactions as puppies were with sheep. They’ve grown up alongside

  • Animal Planet

    “Dogs: The Untold Story” featuring one of our Bankhar dogs is premiering tomorrow night in the United States with two parts of a four part series. It is showing at 9pm and 11pm on Animal Planet (Parts “Stronger Together” and “Wild Workers”). The documentary contains a segment on one of

  • Connecticut College – Landrace Guardians

    To restore an ancient way of life for Mongolian herders, a Connecticut-based NGO is reintroducing a special type of dog to safeguard livestock. BY EILEEN JENKINS Your dog may be able to catch a Frisbee, but can it preserve an ageless culture in the wilds of Mongolia? Scientists at the Mongolian

  • The Team Goes to the Gobi!

    Last week the MBDP team hit the road for the Gobi to visit some of our dogs placed over this passed year. This was my first time seeing livestock guardian dogs in action, not to mention I can cross another desert off my bucket list. it was a real joy

  • Notes from the Field – Trip to Ikh Nart

    Dec. 7th 2016 We returned a few days ago from Ikh Nart, my first trip to interview herders to potentially receive puppies this year. The nature reserve’s diverse landscape gave me the opportunity  see some more interesting wildlife (Mongolian gazelles and longhorn sheep, no ibex this time), and my first

  • Notes From the Field – The Food

    Content in this blog post contains material that may be disturbing to some readers, including pictures and comments about killing livestock.            Last week I had my first experience with real Mongolian food. In the countryside, meat is the most readily available food and a staple

  • Orsilla gave birth

    Orsilla gave birth to seven pups! Field scientist Zoë Lieb says that they haven’t been able to get in there for many photos yet because the momma dog has been keeping them nice and warm in her dog house, but we’ll be sure to post photos as soon as we

  • Ulaanbaatar is the coldest capital in the world.

    Winter in Mongolia is not something to be taken likely. Though Mongolia is impossibly beautiful to look at in the winter, as you can see from Zoe’s amazing photos below, it is also very challenging. In December, the daily high temperature will fall from 15 degrees Fahrenheit to 1 degree

  • Houses fit for royalty!

    Our field team has been working long and hard on making our new facilities even better than our last ones. Their last project has been constructing dog and sheep shelters. Though both the Bankhar and livestock are incredibly tough and very well adapted to the harsh Mongolian steppe, they do need

  • Note From the Field – Meeting the Dogs

    Mongolia is stranger and more beautiful than my wildest dreams. It is stretching my definition of myself as a traveler and as a human. Yeah, I know, we’re really jumping right in here. I’m on my first trip into the countryside! Baaggi and I left UB early in the morning

  • Notes From the Field – First Days in UB!

    It’s my second full day in Mongolia. I am already working on being a regular at the cafe closest to my apartment in Ulaanbaatar. Before now I would have called myself a pretty competent traveler. I have spent all of my summers during college and the last three and a half

  • Notes From the Field – Getting Ready

             After learning about MBDP over a year ago, I am finally preparing to join the team on the ground! A week and a half ago I left my home in Utah and drove across the country to my state of origin – New Jersey – for

  • Meet Sharaa

    We have added another member to our dog crew! Sharaa comes from Bogd Mountain near Byongovi and we think he’s about seven years old. He measures 28 inches at the shoulder and though he was a bit aggressive at first, within hours of being unchained his behavior changed dramatically. He

  • Biogeographic Breeding Mimicry

    What is a “Steppe Dog”……… “Silk Road Dogs” It is clear, the more you look into the “Livestock” dogs of Asia that the group is basically one continuum of type. I refer to this group of landrace dogs as “Steppe Dogs” – meaning having come from and moved via the

  • Don’t forget about our wooly friends!

    We mustn’t forget about our wooly friends! We keep livestock around our breeding dogs, and especially the puppies all year round. Without the presence of sheep and goats from an early age, our puppies would not grow up to be nearly as effective as livestock guardian dogs. The bonding process

  • October 2016 Update!

    Khutter has mated with Orisilla, and Baagvai with Blondie! We will soon have pages to tell you more about each of these dogs, but for now we are just going to express how excited we are about these two pairings. These four are some of our best dogs and genetic

  • The New Enclosures!

    Welcome to the new home of the Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project dog facilities in Mongolia! This is a very delayed update, as it has been some weeks now since our incredible field crew finished putting together the substantial and sizable new enclosures for the MBDP dogs. Here are some photos of

  • DNA Study of the Bankhar Project

    “This is a Mongolian solution to a Mongolian problem based on ancient Mongolian tradition.” NGF Founder Bruce Elfstrom, on restoring the bankhar population to peacefully protect livestock Click image to download full study (two pages)

  • ABC News Australia

    How two young Americans ended up breeding a Mongolian dog to save snow leopards and wolves By Emilia Terzon Posted 14 Aug 2015, 1:04am As the freezing winter descended, Doug Lally was almost too busy building a dog shelter to contemplate the imminent arrival of his main reason for being

  • Wonderful People!

    Check out this great photo collage of some of the wonderful people the MBDP is working with! It would be impossible to achieve our goals without the support and hard work from people like this. We are very lucky to be collaborating with so many dedicated individuals who are all

  • Featured in INK Magazine

    Thanks to INK Magazine for the great feature article on MBDP Read it online here – or pick up a copy of this beautifully produced magazine to check out their guide to finer living in Connecticut & abroad.

  • Climate Change Issues

    Summers are shorter, which leads to less developed grasslands and the plants that do grow contain fewer nutrients. Higher temperatures lead to increased evaporation and water loss. The stress this causes to the grasslands, results in smaller root systems and less robust plants. Decreased overall rainfall but … more frequent

  • MBDP Climate Change Solutions

    While our goals are focused on grassroots efforts and cooperating with other programs we hope through our existence to make people aware of the massive ramifications of climate change. Education through teaching people about the interconnection of all aspects of the plant. Education of our herders.  Through working with us

  • Cultural Issues

    Mongolia’s Soviet Union influenced Socialist period lead to loss of community and with that the loss of elders’ traditional herding knowledge and evolved traditions for a portion of the herder population. In 1990 the Soviet Union collapse, grasslands were opened up to all citizens, some of whom had not been

  • MDBP Cultural Solutions

    We work with local community groups and cooperatives in order to chose herders to offer Bankhar.  Enhanced community involvement by herders helps usher in other community knowledge that a herder might not have or might not have implemented. We work with community elders and often chose to place Bankhar with

  • Economic Issues

    With the 1990 collapse of the Soviet Union, Mongolia moved almost overnight to a market-driven economy. Larger herds lead to changes in pastoral husbandry. The Cashmere market strengthened, which led to goats being kept as the main livestock species. Goats eat grasses to the roots and cause more damage than

  • MDBP Economic Solutions

    Through cooperation with the local community and cooperative leaders we connect our project and the placement of Bankhar with existing economic incentives that favor ecologically sustainable practices and still favor economic benefits for the herders themselves. We ask our herders to join incentive systems that ultimately diversify their income to

  • Predator Issues

    An increase in poaching causes a decrease in the apex predators’ natural prey which, in turn, causes these predators to target domestic livestock. An increased loss of livestock to predation causes herders to “hedge their bets” and keep more livestock than the land can naturally handle. An increased die-off from

  • MBDP Predator Solutions

    Livestock Guardian Dogs are an effective and proven, non-lethal method of direct and indirect predator deterrent. Deterring predators, results in fewer livestock losses. Fewer losses means that herds can be kept smaller as more are likely to survive. Fewer livestock, esp. goats, increased carrying capacity for grasslands and therefore increase

  • Barbus Update

    Remember the Bankhar pup named Barbus who we placed with a new family this spring? Here’s a photo of him and his new companion, an orphaned foal who also lives at the Three Camel Lodge in the Gobi desert. Barbus is a special case because he will not be quite

  • Curious about the Gobi desert?

    Here is a bit of adventure writing about the Singing Sands by our media coordinator Petra Elfström! “The sand shifted, slithering out from under my toes to tumble down the slopes of the dune on either side of me. I walked along the thin ridge, my legs burning from the

  • Wild Art Mongolia

    We’d like to thank Susan Fox (WildArt Mongolia Expeditions), Kim Campbell Thornton (PetConnection column), and Oliver Hartman (Jungles in Paris) for visiting the MBDP’s facilities as part of the 2016 WildArt Mongolia Expedition! WildArt’s mission is to create pieces of art that are influenced by environmental conservation. We can’t wait

  • Tibetan Buddhism

    Tibetan Buddhism, also called Northern Buddhism, spread to Mongolia in the 13th century around the time that the Khans brought Tibet into the Mongol empire. It was then that Buddhism joined Shamanism as one of the main faiths of the land. During the Communist regime all religion was crushed by

  • Gers & Ger Camps

    In many of our posts we mention “gers” and “ger camps,” and while many of our followers know what a ger is, this is a post for those of you who do not! A ger is the traditional dwelling of the Mongolian people, and is a structure commonly used today

  • The Five Jewels

    The “Five Jewels” or “Five Snouts” of Mongolia are the five main types of livestock of the herders of Mongolia. Horses, sheep, goats, cows, and camels are incredibly important forms of livelihood across the steppes, desert, and mountains. Yaks are also often lumped in with cows as another “jewel” of

  • Working in Pairs

    An interesting fact that we have found throughout our research and work in Mongolia and elsewhere, is that Livestock Guardian Dogs, while they work very well solo, work even better in pairs! A pair of dogs that have grown up with livestock will often form a rotating shift so that

  • The Uniqueness of Mongolia

    Mongolia is not only a unique place in terms of wildlife and culture, but the landscapes that one encounters throughout the country are so varied and magnificent that every way you look is another extreme and breathtaking view. Mongolia is not an easy place to live in with its harsh

  • Bichigtiin Khundii

    During our travels, we visited Bichigtiin Khundii. This means “The Valley of the Ancient Script” in English and is named after the incredible petroglyphs that decorate almost every rock face. There are drawings of many creatures, from gazelle to camels to humans hunting deer. The drawings date to the late

  • Huffington Post June 28, 2016

    Dogs Save Snow Leopards and Wolves in Mongolia The Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project, is a non-profit, non-governmental, conservation organization registered in Mongolia since October 2014. The organization built the first livestock guardian breeding and training facility in Mongolia. The concept is unlikely: raise dogs to protect sheep to save wolves

  • Data Collection, Research and Reporting

    MBDP will systematically collect data from host families, partner NGOs and independent research to determine the effectiveness of Bankhar dogs in preventing livestock predation. Data collected will aid research in: Determining Bankhar effectiveness as predator deterrent Perfecting training for families Determining the temperament or action of the dogs most effective

  • Shaman good luck ceremony

    During the Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project and Overland Experts trip, we were lucky enough to meet up with a local Shaman while we were near Khara-khorum. Shamanism was the preliminary religious/spiritual path of Mongolia, and though Buddhism later became the main practice, Shamanism is still practiced today and is still

  • Monitoring Progress

    During each visit to a host family, if the dog wasn’t far away with the herds, we took the opportunity to collect some data. As mentioned before, the MBDP team not only took notes on the herder’s responses to the dog, but we also recorded the height and weight of

  • Søren Nielson’s Mongolia & the Bankhar Dog Album

    Follow Søren on Flicker HERE All photographs © Søren Nielson – all rights reserved

  • Soyolbold Sergelen’s Nomadic Culture Album

    Follow Soyolbold, our official Photographer and Translator on Flicker HERE All photographs © Soyolbold Sergelen – all rights reserved

  • On the Move

    Two days ago we were informed by the Environmental Police of Ulaanbaatar (UB) that they will force our project and dog facilities to leave the lands [that we lease outside of UB] for non-compliance. We’re not sure what we’re not complying to, but we feel it’s best that we move to

  • Meet Barbus

    Meet Barbus! This little guy was one of our fellow travelers at the beginning of the OEX-MBDP Mongolia trip as we transported him to his new owner at Three Camel Lodge. He was one of the Bankhar pups from our January litter, and was surprisingly well behaved and stoic for being

  • Trip Roundup

    The Overland Experts and Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project Trip was a great success! Our group of travelers consisted of a wonderful mix of adventurous minds and hearts that we were thrilled to introduce to the world of the Bankhar dog and the intense culture and environment that is Mongolia. The

  • Breeding

    NGF will use the DNA data collected and analyzed by its partners to ensure maximal out breeding. Aside from DNA, paramount to breeding par choice is working ability – does the individual work livestock in an effective manner. General health, confirmation (fur length, bone structure) and size (large size is

  • Checking up on our pups

    As we traveled through desert and steppe, and even through high mountain passes, we visited some of the dogs our crew has placed with herders over the last two years or so. Though our placed dogs live in the Gobi region, Hustai national park, and Terelj park, during this trip

  • Soyolbold Sergelen’s Bankhar: Man’s Best Friend Album

    Follow Soyolbold, our official Photographer and Translator on Flicker HERE All photographs © Soyolbold Sergelen – all rights reserved

  • Press Release Jan 2015

    First litter of rare puppies born in innovative Mongolian conservation project January 2015 Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia The first litter of Bankhar puppies belonging to the Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project (MBDP) was born at their kennels outside of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia during the last week of December 2014. MBDP’s mission is to breed, train

  • MBDP Launches Indiegogo campaign for 2016 funds

    For Immediate Release Contact: Kate Fritz, press@bankhar.org (707)484-8885 Website: http://igg.me/at/bankhar, www.bankhar.org NGO announces campaign to raise funds for one year of livestock protection dog breeding, training in Mongolia Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia—Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project (MBDP), a 501(c)3 non-profit that breeds, trains and places Bankhar livestock protection dogs with nomadic herder host families,

  • Placement + Continued Education

    A head-started and bonded dog or group of dogs will be placed with host families carefully chosen based on stringent criteria that should result in the highest effectiveness of the dogs during their working life, and that provide the biggest conservation and environmental impact. Prior to placement, host families are

  • Huffington Post December 20th, 2015

    Mongolian dog tradition revived to protect sheep, leopards TUV AIMAG, Mongolia (AP) – Through three decades of marriage, they have wandered together across the rolling hills of Mongolia’s northern Tuv Province, accompanied by their herd of sheep and stalked by the wolves and snow leopards that threaten their livelihood.

  • Meet Arlson

    Name: Arlson Sex: Male Height (inches): 26” Weight (kilos/lbs): 38/83.6 Meaning of Name: Mongol word for Lion Approximate age: 5+ yrs Origin: South Govi Breeding Site: Gachuurt Housed/Bred with: Bred with Red Scarf Personality: Arlson is cat-like except for his mean bark and growl. He is friendly with us, but

  • Meet Baavgai

    Name: Baavgai Sex: Male Height (inches): 30” Weight (kilos/lbs): 48/105.6 Meaning of Name: Mongol word for Bear Approximate age: 5-6 yrs Breeding Site: Has not bred Housed/Bred with: Lives with Spork Personality: Stoic, friendly, menacing at times, intelligent and powerful. He will pull you across the steppe or sneak out

  • Meet Bradley

    Name: Bradley Sex: Male Height (inches): 26” Weight (kilos/lbs): 32/70.4 Approximate age: 1+ yrs Breeding Site: Has not bred Personality: Playful, energetic, likes to cause trouble with Chad. Likes to wrestle

  • Meet Chad

    Name: Chad Sex: Male Height (inches): 26” Weight (kilos/lbs): 34/74.8 Approximate age: 1+ yrs Breeding Site: Has not bred Personality: Brad and Chad like to dig, escape, bark, tag-team wrestle

  • Meet Red Scarf

    Name: Red Scarf Sex: Female Height (inches): 25” Weight (kilos/lbs): 32/70.4 Meaning of Name: Wears a red scarf collar Approximate age: 5+ yrs Breeding Site: Gachuurt Housed/Bred with: Mated w Arlson Personality: Has mothered pups before. Calm, loving and experienced. One of our best mothers. Medium Energy

  • Puppies

  • The People

  • Training/ Bonding

    It is essential that effective livestock protection dogs be raised with livestock (sheep in this case) from early on and have just enough socialization with humans to allow handling of the dog and a close working relationship with host family. The dogs must bond primarily with livestock only and not