The Dukha/Tsataan are a nomadic peoples whose traditional migration patterns have been disrupted by border closures in the 1920’s and are present day Mongolia’s only reindeer herders.
Currently just over 200 Tsataan live in the Mongolian taiga and their family based herding system comprises of herds of between 7 and 160 reindeer.
The number of reindeer has been in flux over the last two decades and has fallen from over 2000 in the late 1970’s to approximately 700 in 2006. Reindeer are used for milk production, transportation and more recently, antlers for handicrafts.
Meat production is not a significant part of Tsataan reindeer husbandry. The Tsataan move with their reindeer in the Eastern Sayan mountains that mark the border between Mongolia and Siberia over an area of ca. 20,000 km2 at elevations of between 1850 and 2100 metres.
The Tsataan people mark the southerly boundary of indigenous reindeer husbandry and their animals are adapted to high (40oC) summer temperatures.