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Tozhu-Tyvan: Russia: Tuva

A reindeer herder camp in Tozhu, winter 2014.
Photo by Maxence Rojo, 2014.

Tozhu-Tyvan are indigenous peoples of Russia (category of "Indigenous Small-numbered Peoples of the North") inhabiting the Todzhinsky District in the Tuva Republic (Russian Federation). Tozhu-Tyvans practice taïga type reindeer-herding and hunting in the Eastern Sayan mountain region of southern Siberia. Eastern Sayan is a well-expressed altitudinal zonality in relief. Nomadic herding areas have an intermediate mountain landscape (1600-3000m) and the uppermost zone is characterized by alpine forms (www.rusnature.info).

Tozha reindeer herding is characterized by small herds, composed by 20 to 150 deer per family (most of them have 30 animals). They use reindeers for transportation and milk production. Traditional structures of Tozha reindeer pastoralism suffered a dramatic cultural and economic disruption during and after sovietic period. The unadapted collective farming system (sovkhoz) and then, the consequences of USRR collapse strongly weakened reindeer herding culture in the region.

Since the last ten years Russian and Chinese companies invest in natural resources exploitation, mainly mining (gold, coal, cobalt), in the Tozha region. Currently, investors would like to extent their activities, which may potentially endanger reindeer herding if traditional nomadic areas are coveted by mining industry.

Tozhu-Tyvans noticed changes in climate which impact herding and hunting activities. An intra-seasonal shift, associated with changes in temperature and precipitation, disrupts health and reproduction of reindeers, periods and routes of migration and sable hunting. First BRISK fieldworks’ results lead by Maxence Rojo (PhD climatology-anthropology – CEARC & LMD / UVSQ) have underlined strong adaptive capacity of Tozha reindeer herders due to their small and highly mobile herds.

By M.Rojo

Responsible researchers in France

Maxence Rojo

Co-researchers

V. Boïdosevich – Director of Toora Khem's boarding school (Tuva Republic, Tozu)

C. Chondan - Tuvan Institute of Human Sciences (Tuva republic, Kyzyl)

M. Monge-Bairovna – Director of Tuvan Institute of Human Sciences (Tuva Republic, Kyzyl)

G. Noer – Norwegian Meteorological Institute (Norway, Oslo)

Private reindeer herders (Republic Tuva, Tozu)

General information about the observatory:

Date of start and / or missions: February 2013
Working language(s): Tuvan and Russian
Collaboration with other projects: coming soon