Home Institution

Williams College

Publication Date

Spring 2015

Program Name

Mongolia: Geopolitics and the Environment


Since transitioning to capitalism in 1990, Mongolia’s wildlife has faced growing threats from the development of infrastructure, increasing livestock populations, and the expansion of an illegal trade in wildlife products. As wildlife populations face these growing risks, Mongolia needs to develop and implement strong wildlife management practices, including tighter enforcement of existing wildlife trade laws, more frequent wildlife population studies, and better legislation. However, these revisions will require significant funding. Trophy hunting, the system through which the Mongolian government sells wealthy foreigners expensive permits to hunt species like argali, ibex, wolf, and roe deer, may be a major source for these funds. While conservationists around the world argue that trophy hunting can support wildlife protection, Mongolia’s trophy hunting has failed to do so over much of its history due to corruption, a weak scientific basis, a lack of benefit to local communities, and a failure to direct revenue back to conservation. However, a number of revisions were made to Mongolia’s trophy hunting system in 2012 that may have improved its potential to serve as a conservation tool.

In this report, I investigate these changes and the current management of trophy hunting in Mongolia. Is trophy hunting now better protecting Mongolia’s wildlife? After performing an extensive literature review and speaking with government officials, conservationists, and hunting company representatives in Ulaanbaatar, I visited Tsetseg soum (district) in Khovd aimag (province) to investigate the real-world implications of trophy hunting by speaking to local community members and government officials. In total, I performed twenty-four interviews. Over the course of this research, I found that while the 2012 revisions to Mongolia’s trophy hunting significantly improved the system’s potential to support wildlife conservation, reducing the potential for corruption, increasing its ecological sustainability, and linking it more closely to local communities, it will not effectively support wildlife conservation until stakeholders’ capacity increases, local community members feel involved and valued, and local governments properly redirect revenue back to wildlife conservation.


Animal Law | Animal Studies | Asian Studies | Community-Based Research | Environmental Law | Environmental Policy | Forest Management | Infrastructure | Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration | Social Welfare | Sociology of Culture


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