Mongolian herders combat the effects of climate change by utilizing their own resourcefulness and innovative technology. The Associated Press captures their efforts through photos.

In Mongolia, the relationship between herders and their animals has existed for thousands of years in the expansive grasslands, creating a unique and undisturbed ecosystem.

Upon initial observation, everything appears exactly as it may have appeared many years ago.

A shepherd observes closely as a mare delivers a foal on a chilly morning in spring. Families search for suitable grazing grounds for their livestock. Gers, or traditional insulated tents made of wood frames, continue to face east and welcome the morning sun, just as they have for generations of nomads since the reign of Genghis Khan.

However, the impact of climate change is widespread: According to the government’s records, the average temperature has increased by 2.2 degrees Celsius (equivalent to nearly 4 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1940. This rise in temperature poses a danger to pastures as they are being consumed by encroaching deserts and water sources are depleting. Furthermore, Mongolia has been experiencing more severe and frequent dzuds, which are natural disasters caused by droughts and intense, snowy winters.

Lkhaebum, a Mongolian herder who only goes by his given name, expressed the need for more rain as he has been doing for many years.

Lkhaebum and fellow nomads in Mongolia have once again adapted to their changing environment by incorporating new technologies alongside their traditional knowledge. They now use motorbikes to quickly navigate through dust storms when searching for lost sheep. Additionally, they utilize solar energy to power their phones and stay connected with nearby communities, sharing information about available grazing lands. This also allows them to keep their freezers running and preserve meat for times of scarcity.

The impact of addressing climate change will also affect residents of cities, particularly the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. With a population of 1.6 million, the city makes up almost half of the country’s total population, and the number of people moving in continues to grow. The city is experiencing a construction boom to meet the demand for housing, resulting in skyscrapers dominating the skyline and traffic congestion caused by larger vehicles.

Every day, trucks transport livestock from rural areas to urban markets to provide food for city dwellers.

Sukhbaatar Square, where protesters had rallied in 1990 to demand freedom from a weakening Soviet Union, now has young boys playing basketball in the evening. Many don’t see a future in herding, but they admit the importance that nomads and their animals have in their culture.


This article is a part of The Protein Problem, a series by AP that investigates the issue of whether we can sustainably feed the growing population without harming the planet. To view the complete project, go to