Herders’ voices reflected in the National Park Management Plan

  • 2020-09-23

Newly established Khomyn Tal National Park is progressing towards upgrading conservation of the 100+ Przewaski’s horses and their habitat. KTT is working on developing the National Park Management Plan – the key document to demonstrate the NGO’s sufficient competence to fulfill the duties of a Special Protected Area Administration on behalf of the Government of Mongolia.

“Will the National Park Administration let our livestock into the fenced area if winter turns out disastrous?” was the burning question herders asked KTT during the public hearing of the draft National Park Management Plan on Aug 5, 2020. More than forty persons, local herders, representatives of neighboring Khar Us Nuur National Park and Mongol Els National Park, local administrative staff (soum and aimag environmental inspectors, staff responsible for sustainable development plan implementation) staff gathered in Khom Station, 90 km from the actual reintroduction site, to hear the latest news on the National Park and contribute their opinions and suggestions.

Just as during numerous meetings with herders ever since the Takhi were brought here, KTT reiterated the reasons to conserve the Khomyn Tal and why it was chosen to reintroduce the previously extinct in the wild Przewalski’s horse as well as the benefits conservation work has been bringing for local residents.

 Now that the Parliament of Mongolia has resolved to take Khomyn Tal under its protection, the borders of the new National Park were identified and herders were briefed about the purpose and functions of a National Park, one of three categories of Special Protection.

Zoning within the National Park would indicate the degree of restrictions that inevitably will be imposed under the laws that rule the National Park management. Upon hearing the initial draft of the National Park Management Plan developed by KTT in consultation with Mr Chimed-Ochir Bazarsad, the member of KTT Management Board and Mrs Chimeg Junai, renowned senior environmentalist, the herders contributed their suggestions to outlining the core zone, the limited use zone and tourism zones in the National Park. Each zone provides that specific activities be restricted in order not to disturb wildlife and conserve the overall ecosystem. Under the guidance of neighboring Khar Us Nuur National Park and Mongol Els National Park representatives, local people brought up their knowledge of where and how wildlife and their livestock paths intersect. The National Parks staff helped to disprove the rumors spread by a few opponents of Takhi reintroduction – that each zone in the newly established National Park will be demarcated by a fence and herders will be forced to leave. Eventually, zonation proposals were discussed and overlaid to produce a unanimously accepted initial map of zones.

Thus, the first step to engaging the local herders in the National Park management has been made. Although there are obstacles and issues to be negotiated and resolved such as still valid mining exploration licenses and reluctance to give up seasonally used animal sheds, KTT is optimistic about its new role as a National Park Administration.