G.Tumenkhuu is a herder in the Sant Soum of the Selenge Province. Because marmots were an endangered species in this district back in the 1980’s, Mr.Tumenkhuu decided to do something about it – he started domesticating marmots from his nativeland Khovd province in the far west of Mongolia. We spoke to him about his relationship with these rodents:
-What first inspired you to breed marmots in the Selenge Province?
-In 1980, I attended a small conference on animal protection. During the conference, I felt the urge to do something about protecting the environment and animals. Since then, I have been working as a natural conservationist in Selenge Province and for 20 years I have tried to plant at least one tree, and to save one animal each year. There was a time, when Selenge had marmots. But then the hunters drove them nearly to extinction; only 2 marmots remained. So, I have been domesticating marmots from my birth place in Khovd Province. Today, there are 119 marmots in 17 burrows. The biological species is the “Black Altai Marmot”. My goal is not only protecting marmots. I want to protect and breed other animals, which are listed in the Red Book of Threatened Species.
-Is marmot breeding useful to nature?
-The Marmot is beneficial to grass and plants. Also, it has a cheerful influence on humans. For example, I feel joy when I hear the sound of the marmots, while I am busy with my horses. Of course, breeding threatened animals is a great thing.