The Protection Unit focuses on enforcing environmental laws to prevent environmental degradation and destruction in Hustai National Park (HNP) by detecting and preventing illegal activities. In addition, the Protection Unit is responsible for the internal order of their organization. In all other special protected areas of Mongolia, the standard set by the Minister of Environment and Tourism is one ranger for every 40,000 hectares of steppe land. However, the Hustai National Park Trust, which manages the park, has chosen to employ 12 rangers. Each ranger protects an approximately 4,000 hectare area in order to support the HNP mission to achieve a sustainable population of endangered wild Przewalski’s horses while conserving the park’s ecosystem in a manner that includes the active involvement of local people, enhances knowledge of conservation management and enriches visitor experiences through eco-tourism, which in turn, provides financial support for the park.
Equipment for each ranger includes: four-season uniform, motorcycle, horse, Taser, air gun, knob stick, two-way radio, shoulder bag with tools and GPS.
Inspection, patroling, training and cooperation
Protection teams conduct daily patrols and inspections in their respective area. They also engage in contractual agreements with soum and provincial environmental authorities, law enforcement agencies, specialized inspection agencies and traffic police to identify potential and actual offenses. The Protection Team also works cooperatively with the Mongolian Professional Inspection Agency, General Prosecutor’s Office, General Police Department and the Red Cross Society, all of which organize training for the Protection Unit.
Protection teams face a number of challenges, which typically vary by season. Examples include:
- - Domestic livestock encroaching: Year round, domestic horses, cattle, sheep and goats from the buffer zone move into the park to graze.
- - Red deer antler collecting: In the spring, people enter the park to collect red deer antlers, which are then sold. This illegal activity occurs during the driest season in the park, when forest and steppe fires can occur and when red deer fat reserves are at their lowest. People chasing the deer to cause the antlers to detach creates harmful stress in the red deer in addition to red deer mortalities.
- - Marmot poaching: In July to September, the number of poachers who enter the park to kill marmots for meat and fur increases.
To protect the park’s ecosystem and wildlife, the Protection Teams work to prevent these activities. Anyone killing wildlife faces a large fine and up to six years in prison.