Symbiotic Relationship Between Mongolian Mountain Tribe and Reindeer

It is not only in Lapland that reindeer are treasured as a vital part of life. In the heart of the Mongolian mountains there is a nomadic tribe of herders who have depended on them for thousands of years.

Belgian photographer Pascal Mannaerts spent days horse-riding across the Ulaan taïga to meet with Tsaatan people and document their unique lifestyle.

The tribe occupy remote subarctic areas in northern Khövsgöl Aimag of Mongolia, moving during the year with the seasons.

Their very existence is entwined with the reindeer, relying on them for milk, cheese and predominantly transportation.

‘The tribe live in very simple tents, which are not large with the whole family residing in each,’ Mannaerts told.

‘The furniture is very basic. There were only two beds for the whole family, a tiny kind of wardrobe, a stove, and that’s it.’

Despite their simple existence, the 36-year-old photographer was amazed at their hospitality and the amount of resources they shared with him.

‘I was amazed to see how they were actually truly happy. One night, we asked Bolorma, the mother, what makes her happiest in the world. Without hesitation, she replied that this was her children and her flock.’

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