Mongolia Horse Riding Tours Support Conservation and Community
Protecting Pasture and Water Resources
It has always been in our interest that our Mongolia horse riding tours support conservation and community in the places we travel from and through. The Darkhid Valley has been the home valley of our horses for nearly two decades and has become the staging area of our horseback expeditions. It is also home of the herder home stay where guests can experience the daily life of a Mongolian herder family, and contribute to local incomes through their stay.
As the city is growing and more people move into the outer districts, or build summer homes, the valley has become more populated. But as our guests know, despite more fences and buildings along the way, the staging area with our cabins, nestled into the larch forest across the winter camp site and horse corrals, still remains a little retreat of peace and scenic beauty. After all, this was a wild valley only three decades ago. Yadmaa, the caretaker of our herd and host of the home stay, sometimes speaks of these times when he would see bear tracks and wolverine in the valley. These times are gone, but it is still important wildlife habitat. We have seen roe deer, red deer in higher elevations, lynx in the forest, and marten on the scree slopes up the valley. In winter time, a multitude of tracks in the snow gives away the presence of many small mammals – mice, squirrels, chipmunks, and more. And of course, there are wolves, at times.
While there were fewer buildings, fences and vehicles in our early years in the valley, there was also a big sore in the landscape. When the road up the main valley was built years ago, a gravel pit had been created. And over time, it had become a garbage dump. Not only was it unsightly. With groundwater levels rising after summer rains, this would turn into a serious public health risk. Rubbish and animal cadavers were submerged in water. And all along the valley, herders and summer residents would get their water from the creek into the aquifer of which the contaminated ground water seeped.
Anybody involved in environmental work is familiar with this. It mostly isn’t spending time in pristine nature, observing wildlife. Its witnessing degradation of the environment, in more or less graphic forms, and the solution requires bringing individuals and organizations together, to deal with conflict, develop consensus and facilitate actions. The situation prompted us to take initiative, first discussing with local households and the local ranger. Having received the support from the district vice governor, and the attention of the environmental and health officers, we facilitated the development of a joint proposal to generate funding for a conservation and community development project. In 2011, we received funding from the Toyota Foundation.
“Water for Life – The Darkhid Valley Community Land Restoration Project for Watershed Protection”
The project brought together local community members, Mongolian NGOs for Environmental Education, researchers on wildlife, forest, pasture and water resources, local law enforcement/rangers, and local government representatives. A series of planning workshops, research and activities followed.
The unhealthy and unsightly gravel-pit-turned-dumpsite was rehabilitated into green pasture, a community effort cleaned the Darkhid valley of rubbish, illegal logging was curbed through community vigilance, natural resources were evaluated and management plans prepared through collaboration of researchers, local resource users and government officers, simple creek restoration measures were initiated, a Comunity Information and Meeting Center was build.Trainings were provided for topics such as improved dairy processing and marketing. The Mongolian NGO “Nomadic Nature Conservation” (NNC) organized activities for kids to educate about wildlife and ecology and trained local community members as trainers. The group also helped develop an educational trail and accompanying booklet, an interpretive activity and resource to learn about the ecology in the Darkhid Valley.
Rehabilitating a Rubbish Dump to Pasture
Simple Measures for Creek Restoration
Community Action for Watershed Protection and Nature Conservation
The Darkhid Valley and the Herder Home Stay
To enjoy the Darkhid Valley and experience daily life of a Mongolian herder family, check out the Ger Stay.
Explore Gorkhi Terelj National Park and the Khentii Mountains on Horseback
To explore the back country of the Darkhid Valley, and venture into Gorkhi Terelj National Park and further into the Khentii Mountains on horseback, see your options for a riding tour with Stone Horse Expeditions:
Take Part in Conservation Activities while on a Wilderness Horse Ride in Mongolia