The Tsaatan, whose name means ‘The Reindeer People’, live in communities spread throughout the north and west of Mongolia, specifically in the Taiga biome in the Khövsgöl province. It is a wild and far-away land where their survival instincts play an important role in their day-to-day lives.
They live exclusively to care for and are dependent upon the needs of the reindeer; moving from one zone to the next in search of better pastures. Depending on the season in which they find themselves, they can travel vast distances in ‘herds’ with the reindeer. Together, they can cover large distances over all kinds of terrain transporting the Tsaatan to their next destination.
They rely on hunting and gathering to survive and take advantage of the reindeer’s milk that is high in protein and fat. Whenever necessary they also eat reindeer meat, though in small quantities. From each zone they visit, they make the most of the resources available and hunt whatever the land offers. If the land is not fruitful, they can relocate again in a matter of days. They are constantly searching for areas that best suit the reindeer, where there is a cold climate and sufficient food.
The men tend to go hunting for days at a time while the women stay and look after the camp and the children.
In winter, due to extreme weather conditions and heavy snowfall, they move into the forests where there is greater protection from the elements.
The Tsaatan live in perfect harmony with nature and her adversities. Though it is a tough way of life, they are completed devoted to their customs and, above all, caring for their reindeer.