Gobi Herders’ Decision-Making and Risk Management under Changing Climate

  • Tserennadmid Nadia MijiddorjEmail author
  • Ariell Ahearn
  • Charudutt Mishra
  • Bazartseren Boldgiv


Our research examines herder livelihoods strategies in a region of the South Gobi desert that is heavily affected by both formal and informal/illegal mining and is exposed to natural hazards such as dzud (lethally severe winters) and drought. The term ‘herder’ encompasses a wide range of animal-related activities and households correspondingly utilize a complex range of strategies to respond to environmental, political, and socioeconomic conditions. We conducted semi-structured interviews with local herders as well as with individuals who had abandoned herding practices. We discuss how climatic factors such as dzud and drought can affect herders’ livelihood decision-making, including engaging in informal/illegal mining, becoming a contracted herder or opening a small business in settlements. We also demonstrate that both social aspirations and climate-related economic vulnerability play a role in the decision to pursue alternative livelihoods.


Gobi herders Climate change Informal/illegal mining Livelihood strategies Dzud Risk Decision-making Pastoralism South Gobi Mongolia 



We acknowledge the support of local people who agreed to be interviewed anonymously for this research. All views expressed in this paper are those of authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of the funding organization.

Funding Information

Tserennadmid Nadia Mijiddorj received Wildlife Conservation Network scholarship through her Doctoral research supported by Snow Leopard Trust.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest in subject of matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation Peace Avenue, UlaanbaatarMongolia
  2. 2.Ecology Group, Department of Biology, School of Arts and SciencesNational University of MongoliaUlaanbaatarMongolia
  3. 3.School of GeographyOxford UniversityOxfordUK
  4. 4.Snow Leopard TrustSeattleUSA

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