13th Annual Smithsonian.com Photo Contest
The Life in Ortz
Lkhagvasuren Battur (59), a Mongolian guide, chops down a tree for firewood to be used in a stove inside an ortz, the teepee-like tent used by the Tsaatan people. The firewood burns so well that it heats up the ortz quickly but it also burns fast, requiring a constant supply of firewood.
The Tsaatan ethnic minority are one of the last remaining groups of nomadic reindeer herders in Mongolia, and have been maintaining their traditions for thousands of years. They seasonally migrate within the forests of the Taiga according to weather and food conditions for their reindeer, which they depend on for milk and transportation.
They face challenges to their traditional way of life, with recently introduced laws aimed at conservation limiting their ability to hunt wild animals for food, and climate change affecting their habitat and possibly exposing reindeer to disease.
Previously self-supporting, they now are partly dependent on government handouts and tourism to enable them to buy meat and other supplies.
© Madoka Ikegami.
All rights reserved.
||Nov. 3, 2015, 1:13 a.m.