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Cattle by a Mongolian Lake

Viterbo, Italy – Marush Narankhuu had to divide her herd of 600 cattle, giving half to two of her sons. She used to have more but nearly a hundred died as a ten-year drought continues to hit the steppes of Mongolia where her cattle grazes.

Water levels in the nearby lake have gone down. “Khar Us Lake has evaporated dramatically within the last four to five years” Marush said. “There were many small ponds around the lake. None of them exist now.”

The Kahr Us, or Black Water Lake, is the second largest lake in Mongolia. It's 1,497 square kilometer area is one of five inter-connected lakes in the country. In one of the lower lakes, Khar Nuur, the government is building a hydro-power dam.

“This place was really beautiful,” said 68-year-old Marush. Her ancestors lived in the area for a long time. She raised 14 children there, four of whom are now herdsmen like her. “There was grass everywhere...We had a peaceful life around the lake.”

For the last two years, there has not been enough grass for her cattle. Many of the herdsmen have moved to other regions, looking for green pastures and water.

She and 20 other women in her community are now looking for ways to increase their income. They are looking at producing products from the wool of the cattle.

Marush said that as herdsmen, their well-being is completely dependent on nature and the weather. “We need to save our lake and our life,” Marush said.

Adlai Amor is director of communications at Bread for the World. He met Marush Narankhuu at the GreenAccord International Media Forum on the Protection of Nature, Viterbo, Italy, Nov. 25-29.


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