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Goucher College

Publication Date

Fall 2009

Program Name

Mongolia: Nomadic Culture and Globalization

Abstract

“The king of this place could be Bear; it can capture and eat anything, even roe deer and moose. But I think sometimes Bear is eaten by Wolf, working as a pack. It means that Wolf is the king of the king” – Joogdernamjil, Dadal Hunter The grey wolf is a key figure in Mongolian culture, representing not only the male ancestor behind the bloodline of Chinggis Khaan, but also the messenger of heaven, sent to punish those who disrespect the spirit masters of the land. Countryside herders and UB businessmen alike honor the wolf as a spiritually powerful animal, but they also hate it for the damage it inflicts on their livestock. The wolf-Mongol relationship is like an unbalanced penny: both sides make the coin, but it always lands one way up. The economic side is simply too appealing to be passed up, as the wolf’s connection to heaven makes its body parts profitable as alternative medicine. It does not help that the grey dog has been attacking livestock more frequently, especially since with privatization and capitalism the herders’ welfare is directly connected to the strength of his herd. It is economically sound to hunt wolves in great numbers, and that is exactly what modern Mongolians are doing. However, this could have dire consequences for not just the wolf, but for the environment and the nation’s pride. Eliminating such a culturally important being from the steppe would be detrimental to the Mongolian population as a whole.

Disciplines

Animal Sciences | Anthropology

 

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