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 will operate as a sequel to the most comprehensive IWT study conducted in Mongolia to date, Silent Steppes. The current project will use the survey methods and data collected during the Silent Steppes further investigate the trends in IWT in Mongolia.
  • An assessment will be conducted by ZSL training team focusing on the Border Agency and Mongolian State Policy. Appropriate training will then be provided, to include things such as IWT product recognition and the use of sniffer dogs.
  • ZSL will develop a more user friendly customs database that will help provide a clear picture of international border trade and help identify key hotspots to improve law enforcement.
  • Two multi-agency task forces will be created in two regions 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 needed amendments. ZSL will work with the relevant government agencies to discuss, revise and ultimately get accepted this list of amendments.
  • ZSL and local consultants will develop a protocol to recommend to the Ministry of Environment and Green Development regarding how to direct income from poaching fines at community groups, protected areas and local NGOs.
  • A wildlife crime hotline provides increased information flow between the local community and law enforcement agencies and financial incentives to community members.



Key species:

Siberian Marmot, Saiga antelope, snow leopard

People involved:

Nathan Conaboy, 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