The wild beauty of the desert

Cornelia Kumfert

An environmentalist photographer goes to the Gobi in Mongolia to capture images of an age-old nomad culture

 

Few pack animals can carry as much weight and travel as far as the camel. These nomads have bred them for millennia. At market, white camels claim the highest prices.

 

Byambadorg, 58, was raised in the desert and owns roughly 1,000 goats, 20 horses and 400 camels. He says the desert has become increasingly unpredictable in the past few years.

 

During a normal week, ten-year-old Khongurzul lives in Dalanzadgad, the capital of South Gobi, where she goes to school. She looks forward to her weekends at home in the desert.

Breeding goats is considered essential to the nomads, but the animals graze plants down to their roots, giving the vegetation zero chance to recover.

The Gobi is a vast desert and semi-desert region that’s 1,000 miles long and 300 to 600 miles wide. Each year, grazing fields are lost to huge dunes such as this one. 

 

The Mongolian horse is at home 
in the grassy steppes. These 
robust animals can withstand temperatures as low as -40°C.

 

Camel breeder Tschulun lives with his wife and their two children in a traditional round tent known as a Ger, which serves as living room, bedroom and kitchen combined.

Shamanism has been practised for centuries in Mongolia. Below, Shaman Budsana prepares for a ritual in Ulaanbaatar.