Tuul Sukhbaatar, Ph.D., is a 2020 graduate of the Ph.D. Program in Environmental Studies at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • James Gruber, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Jean Kayira, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • James Murdoch, Ph.D., Committee Member


traditional ecological knowledge, TEK, pastoralists, herders, wolf hunters, stakeholder groups, wolf management, adaptive wolf management, Khangai region, forest steppe zone, Mongolia

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Conflicts between humans and wolves occur anywhere these two inhabit the same area. This research explored traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) of Mongolians and potential opportunities that this knowledge could offer to improve relationships between humans and wolves (Canis lupus) in Mongolia. Research questions include: what is the local understanding of TEK as it applies to wolves; what are the perceptions of different stakeholder groups on the wolves; and what opportunities are there to draw upon TEK to reduce human-wolf conflicts? This research, using the case study and mixed methods, involved 128 individuals who represented four stakeholder groups (herders, urban residents, hunters, and environmental officials). Four sites were chosen for this research, Ulaanbaatar and three provinces that are within the forest-steppe or Khangai region. Findings suggest that Mongolians generally viewed wolves from neutral to positive. Respect towards wolves was high in all four groups. The respect arose from various reasons, including the wolf’s role in the ecosystems, the wolf’s “intelligence and bravery”, the spirituality of Mongolian people, and the history of Mongolia. Results included findings that most herders live in a type of balance, both harmony and rivalry, with wolves. I also found that there was a broad acceptance among herders that wolves can actually help them become more responsible and accountable in their practices. All stakeholder groups consider the wolf as an ecologically and culturally iconic species and is perceived as a keystone species in keeping the ecological balance. Recommendations from across all stakeholder groups support new comprehensive laws and regulations for managing the wolf population in an ecologically balanced manner.


Tuul Sukhbaatar

ORCID Scholar ID# 0000-0002-3787-8058