The CIC’s Flying Vets Project

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Mongolia’s wildlife is a pillar of the country’s cultural and socio-economic identity.

The country is perhaps best known for the Przewalski’s horse and the Saiga antelope, both regarded as iconic symbols around the world.

The livestock that can be found in Mongolia are also deeply intertwined with the livelihoods of the Mongolian nomadic herders, whose lifestyles have remained largely unchanged over thousands of years.

Sadly, Mongolian wildlife is under severe pressure.

The Przewalski’s horse and the Saiga antelope are both listed as endangered species. Wildlife-related diseases are prevalent throughout the country, some of which can be traced back to instances of disease in livestock. One notable example of this is the virus known as Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) which caused the death of 1,000s of Saiga antelope in 2017.

In addition, local communities are facing increased risks associated with zoonosis – diseases transmitted from animals to humans – due to the rising trend of domestic animals encroaching into wild spaces.

These issues are among the reasons why the CIC decided to launch the Flying Vets Project.

Carried out in collaboration with the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH), the project will aim to promote and enhance the ability of local communities in Mongolia to identify, respond to and manage wildlife diseases.

This will include addressing issues related to wildlife-domestic livestock interactions and the related transmission of diseases (including zoonoses), thereby reducing the potential threat posed to public health, food safety, as well as wildlife conservation.

The project kicked off with a multi-stakeholder meeting in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia on 3 August, 2022 as part of an initial pilot phase.

The meeting brought together key experts in the environment, human health and veterinary sectors to identify the key issues, including environmental challenges, that may affect public and animal health in Mongolia and abroad.

To support the Flying Vets project, click here to donate!

As part of the effort to raise awareness and funds for the Flying Vets, we enlisted the help of long-time CIC and Young Opinion member Flurina Hammer, who took part in the 2022 Mongol Derby (23 July – 1 August, 2022) to help kick-start the launch of this project. Flurina has also worked on the development of the Flying Vets since its inception, and the project was originally born out of her participation in the Derby.

The Mongol Derby is an equestrian endurance race that takes place annually in Mongolia, with countless people flying in from all over the world to participate.

Every year, the event grabs the attention of prominent media outlets and shifts their focus on Mongolia during the course of the race. This meant that the Mongol Derby was the perfect opportunity to promote the Flying Vets to a broader international audience.

We are happy to announce that Flurina came in 12th place in the race, showcasing her brilliant physical and mental toughness, as well as her dedication to the Flying Vets Project.

To learn more, check out our interview with Flurina, where we discuss the Mongol Derby, the Flying Vets and the multi-stakeholder meeting that took place following its conclusion.

The Mongol Derby

The Mongol Derby is a 1,000km horse race across Mongolia, also known as the longest and toughest horse race in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

The course is based on an ancient messenger system used by Genghis Khan, with the 1,000km distance covering large areas across the Mongolian steppe. The semi-wild derby horses are provided by the local nomadic herders, with riders changing their steeds every 40km at horse stations. There is no marked course and the race is limited to 10 days.

Why did I participate in the Mongol Derby?

The Mongol Derby is an extraordinary challenge and a once in a lifetime experience which allows you to experience Mongolian culture at its roots.

The derby is all about horsemanship, physical and mental strength, as well as getting out of your comfort zone while riding through the stunning landscape of Mongolia.

Being passionate about horses and the outdoors, I couldn’t resist taking up this challenge and throwing myself into the unknowns of the Mongolian steppe.

As a long time CIC member and hunter that deeply cares about wildlife and wildlife conservation, I also saw this as the perfect opportunity to raise funds for The Flying Vets project.

The Mongol Derby is a magnificent way to experience the country’s culture and wildlife. Unfortunately, Mongolia’s culture and wildlife is severely at risk. Unless we act now, we may lose the wildlife and cultural heritage that makes this nation so great.

I hope you will join me in donating to this project, so that future generations can experience Mongolia as we can now.

Flurina Hammer