- Hide captionA baby Bactrian camel is tied up at the edge of the Badam family's small farmstead. Bactrian camels — like all Mongolian mammals — have thick fur to withstand the winters.John W. Poole/NPR
- John W. Poole/NPR
- Hide captionWorkers brush cashmere goats in South Gobi on the Badam family's farm. Cashmere wool, milk and meat are the main commodities for Mongolia's herders.John W. Poole/NPR
- Hide captionA freshly slaughtered sheep carcass hangs inside the family's ger, or yurt, to dry. Meat — usually mutton — and noodles are the main foods for most Mongolians.John W. Poole/NPR
- Hide captionBat-Erdene Badam stands inside his animal corral, made of wood and compressed animal dung. He says none of his children are interested in continuing to work as herders.John W. Poole/NPR
- Hide captionA veterinarian rides in on a motorcycle to check on the family's animals.John W. Poole/NPR
- Hide captionBat-Erdene's son, Uuganbaatar Badam, works at a coal mine in South Gobi. He lives in one of these gers near the open-pit mine and makes about $500 a month.John W. Poole/NPR
- Hide captionUuganbaatar says does not miss the herding life of his father and enjoys the salary, friends and amenities at the mining camp.John W. Poole/NPR
With desertification, drought and a booming mining industry, Mongolians are leaving the traditional life of herding. Herdsman Bat-Erdene Badam says he will be the last in his family to tend livestock. His children are trading in their nomadic lives for more stable, often urban jobs.
May 23, 2012 A massive mine in the middle of the Gobi is providing opportunities to thousands of young Mongolians, drawing talent from other fields such as tourism. But some complain that foreigners earn more than locals, and those who can't find mining work are striking out on their own as illegal prospectors.
May 22, 2012 Mongolia is now tapping huge natural resources. But they're in the Gobi region, where traditional nomadic herding is under assault and desertification is a major problem. Herders are worried the mines will siphon off already dwindling water supplies, while trucks and roads destroy pastureland.
May 21, 2012 Mongolia is in the midst of a dramatic economic boom as huge mining operations look to reshape the country. Some predict Mongolia's GDP will double in a decade. But this economic overhaul could put further pressure on Mongolia's traditional way of life.