A Nomadic Life in the Gobi Desert
Think of a climate that reaches 45 degrees in summer and drops down to minus 40 degrees in winter. Endless sand dunes, scorching heat or freezing cold, scarce water resources, and arid months without one drop of rain... Home to one of the harshest climates in the world, the Gobi Desert is one such place and is inhabited by camel and goat shepherds. Situated between southern Mongolia and China, the desert offers two prominent means of living to the locals despite the tough climate. One is goats that provide the world's best cashmere, and the other is the bactrian (two-humped) camels that are indigenous to the region.
The villagers in southern Mongolia live in traditional tents called ger, and pursue a nomadic life herding goat, sheep and camel. In summer, they migrate to areas with short grass that are closer to water resources. They sometimes move for days followed by their herds. However, the hardest thing for shepherds is to draw water from the wells. A camel needs to drink at least 50 liters of water a day. If you also add the small cattle, the shepherds need to draw more than 2,000 liters of water every day.
But no matter how big the herd is, the shepherds try to establish a special connection with each animal. "We can't be happy if they're not happy," they say, and even bring a musician from a nearby settlement to play some music if camels look sick or distressed. Featured in a documentary, this music ritual is the best example of the relationship between the shepherds and their animals.
Dominated by sand dunes as high as 800 meters, a clear sky where you can easily count the stars, wildlife, dinosaur fossils that are millions of years old, and a tough climate, the desert's shepherds and herds are intent on keeping their nomadic lifestyle.