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Mongolia, population 3.27 million, is an East Asian country known among other things for its natural beauty, not least that of the Steppe. Guest writer James Hone will explore the legal framework for animals in one of the most sparsely-populated nations in the world and home to Earth’s coldest capital city, Ulaanbaatar, and many of the most endangered animal species.

Mongolia has yet to be given a rating by the Animal Protection Index (API); however, World Animal Protection has developed a programme in Mongolia through collaboration with the IFRC and the Red Cross.

Contextual and Recent Historical Overview

Before getting into some of the laws in detail, it should be said as background that Mongolia’s Constitution (which entered law in 1992) states underArticle 6 that fauna “are subject to national sovereignty and state protection” and that “game is the property of the State”.

Game in Mongolia includes wild boar, Siberian roe deer, grey wolves, blacktail gazelles, white gazelles, various birds (such as geese, ducks, pochards, grouse and cormorants) and various “Asian big game”, of which the main three are the Mongolian elk, Ibex, and Argali (a type of wild sheep). Fishing is also common in Mongolia, and the country’s various large fish species make it a popular destination in the international angling community.

This makes regulation of hunting a core aspect of Mongolian animal protection law, as there is much to regulate. Two factors exacerbate this: (1) the large range of endangered and rare animals in Mongolia and (2) the emphasis on farmed animals to the Mongolian economy.

The majority of animals farmed in Mongolia are “camels, horses, cattle (of which yak are considered to be a part), sheep and goats”.

Forms of protection which came in in the late 20th Century include:

  • The designation of various environments as “Strictly Protected”, meaning that hunting and development are prohibited;

  • The designation of some environments as “National Parks”, thereby limiting access to ecotourists in some small areas and to local nomads for fishing and grazing otherwise;

  • The creation of “National Reserves” or “National Monuments”, where development is prohibited so as to preserve endangered species and archaeological value.

In 1995 the Law on Environmental Protection imposed state obligations to “prohibit the hunting and trapping of very rare animals”, “register and protect very rare animals and rare animals in the Red Book of Mongolia”, “conduct ecological education programmes” and “establish hygienically sound areas to ensure the protection of sources [of water]” (Article 19.2).

In 2000 the Law on Hunting set out key permissions with respect to hunting (Articles 6-16):

  • Game are permitted to be hunted all year round for specified purposes.

  • Other animals are hunted only by special state licence or during a specified hunting period.

  • Should these rules be violated, sanctions can be imposed (both civil and criminal).

In 2001 the Law on Animal Genetic Resources and Health Protection introduced regulations on “animal genetic resources, animal reproduction and animal health protection”. This covered pets for the first time. The 2001 law also dealt specifically with a series of ongoing administrative issues with respect to animal health, such as the proliferation of veterinary care and breeding services, with a view of upholding high standards.

Key Recent Legislation

The 2012 law can be viewed as both an update and a codification of much of what came before.

With respect to which species can be hunted and when, it says that “very rare animals may be hunted or trapped with permission of the State central administrative body with the purpose of conducting scientific work only” (Article 7.1), that “rare animals may be hunted or trapped … with the licence issued by the SCAB for research, cultural, arts and treatment purposes, where citizens of Mongolia or foreign countries [have] paid special fees, and for the purposes of regulating herd structure of animals in certain territories and disinfecting focus areas of communicable diseases” (Article 7.2). As in the 1995 Law, hunting of certain kinds of animals is permitted only during specified seasons (an example is that badgers must be hunted between the 15th November and the end of January) (Article 9.1).

With respect to how animals may be hunted, it bans various methods and weapons (Articles 10 and 11), most of them for reasons of not being designed for hunting specifically or being unduly cruel.

Outside of hunting, the 2012 Law also lays out a great many other forms of protection. Article 6(1) includes:

  • The setting of sanctions and restrictions for animal use

  • The registration of rare and very rare animals in the Red Book and Appendices

  • The retention of normal growth of animals and their range

  • The protection of free migration paths for animals

  • The protection of animal gene pools

  • The determination of animal resources and regulation of their use

  • The reintroduction of some animals and the prevention of extinctions due to commercial activity such as industrial development

  • The taking of biotechnical measures

  • The caretaking of sick animals, or animals who have endured disasters and other phenomena

  • The conducting of scientific work designed to justify further measures

  • The education of citizens and key stakeholders about the need for animal protection

Law on Animal Health 2017

Whilst not an animal protection measure, it is included to provide insight into provisions that affect animals, such as a growing animal export trade. The 2017 law came in the aftermath of a prolonged collaboration between the FAO and the Mongolian Government in which the former set a series of goals with respect to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Later, in 2019, the FAO reported the 2017 reform as an overall success. The measures it took, which the EDA called “an important step towards compliance with international standards and a precondition for increased exports of livestock products”include:

  • Veterinary services and legal framework both improved to support the development of the farmed animal sector.

  • Consultation workshop on animal and veterinary public health and genetic resources.

  • Five year action plan produced on controlling animal disease and a report produced on key measures to implement.

  • Ascertaining from stakeholders the level of capacity of vets to handle their workload and what needs to be done to improve the situation.

  • On-site visits of veterinary centres to understand functionality.

The Future

Continued International Collaboration

Catherine Arnold CBE has written for the FCDO about how the Mongolian authorities and UK government have been working together with ZSL to combat illegal animal trade in Mongolia, and in particular in the country’s capital, Ulaanbaatar. Such attempts are crucial to tackle the widespread nature of the problem in the country and may help to identify why it is that legal attempts to discourage the practice so far have been ineffective. This will be crucial if Mongolia is to tackle the areas in which the practice is growing, rather than merely continuing.

Expanding Protection To More Animals

Protection for farmed animals and companion remain extremely limited and so some organisations have focused on campaigning for them to have their own protections the way endangered animals do. Similar calls have come from those who advocate for assistance animals.

Getting Advice

This blog post is not legal advice. For more information on the services Advocates for Animals offers please contact

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