Illegal wildlife trade in Mongolia

Illegal wildlife trade in Mongolia

Illegal wildlife trade in Mongolia is a serious, yet under-reported problem. A 2006 report, Silent Steppe (Wingard and Zahler, 2006), revealed that the trade is valued at US$ 100 million annually and is causing catastrophic declines of important species in Mongolia. The main cause of this decline is hunting for the fur trade.

Mongolia’s hunted wildlife is often low in value but high in volume, so the impact on a given species is great and the number of species affected is significant. The Siberian marmot has seen a 75% decline in the past 30 years and the population continues to decline due to hunting for its fur. The Saker falcon has declined by over 60% in 20 years, largely as a result of live capture for the pet trade.

Siberian Marmot, Mongolia.
Siberian Marmot, Mongolia.

What is ZSL doing?

  • The project has completed the most comprehensive IWT study conducted in Mongolia to date, Mongolia Silent Steppe II: Mongolia’s Wildlife Trade Crisis, Ten Years Later. The current project will use the survey methods and data collected during the first Silent Steppe report published in 2006, allowing the continued investigation of IWT trends in Mongolia.
  • A ZSL assessment will be conducted of Mongolia’s Border Agency and State Police. Appropriate targeted training will be provided, including topics such as illicit wildlife product identification, and improving the use and effectiveness of detector dog units.
  • ZSL will develop an improved, user friendly, Customs database that will help provide a clear picture of international border trade and help identify key trafficking hotspots to improve law enforcement.
  • A multi-agency task force will be created in priority region/s to complement the existing task forces in the Eastern Steppes.
  • ZSL and Legal Atlas will conduct a desk-based review of Mongolia’s existing wildlife-related laws and draft a list of priority amendments. ZSL will work with the relevant government agencies to discuss, revise and ultimately seek the incorporation of these amendments into Mongolia’s legal framework.
  • In partnership with Mobicom, Mongolia’s largest telecom provider, ZSL will implement an IWT awareness raising campaign. This will increase the sharing of information passed between the local community and law enforcement agencies, ultimately aiding the policing of illegal poaching and the trade in wildlife.


Key species:

Siberian Marmot, Saiga antelope, snow leopard

People involved:

Dr Samuel Merson, Munkhjargal Myagmar, Myagmarsuren Shagdarjav, Dr Gitanjali Bhattacharya, Dr Gombobaatar Sundev.


DEFRA, Ministry for Environment and Green Development, Mobicom, Legal Atlas.

More information:

Silent Steppe Report