Since 1996, the Chinese government has started to implement a nationwide grazing ban in selected areas with the aim of relieving overgrazing and erosion of the grasslands. This has inevitably had an adverse effect on the pastoralists’ life. Few herders have the knowledge or the technological hardware to provide for their animals in feedlots, and the cost of livestock rearing is consequently rising. Mongolian horses, in particular, have been kept in the open since the dawn of history; being fed in sheds is against the age-old practices of their owners –
and indeed the instinct of the animals themselves. With a lower economic value than other livestock, such as beef cattle, goats and sheep, horses are no longer the pastoralists’ first priority. They keep fewer livestock than previously and horses are first among those they get rid of.
In mid-2016, the Inner Mongolia government reported that desertification had moderated, with deserts in the province being reduced from 2009 by some 416,900 hectares to 60.92 million hectares, which is about 51.5 per cent of the province’s land. Meanwhile, desertified land, defined as that which is on the brink of being turned into desert, was decreased by 343,300 hectares to 40.78 million hectares.