Photo Essay – Life and Death in Inner Mongolia

On the right-hand side of the barbed wire is Mongolian herdsman Damrin’s ranch and living areas, where animals graze freely. The left side was once his ranch. At that time there was no barbed wire yet.  But fifteen years ago, a paper mill illegally occupied the land on left side, and made it into a land of death.

On the right-hand side of the barbed wire is Mongolian herdsman Damrin’s ranch and living areas, where animals graze freely. The left side was once his ranch. At that time there was no barbed wire yet. But fifteen years ago, a paper mill illegally occupied the land on left side, and made it into a land of death.

This country road leads to herdsman Damrin’s home

This country road leads to herdsman Damrin’s home

Damrin and his favourite motorbike. He said that he has not ridden a horse for many decades. Not far a way, his sheep are grazing peacefully.

Damrin and his favourite motorbike. He said that he has not ridden a horse for many decades. Not far a way, his sheep are grazing peacefully.

Growing grass, harvesting grass.

Growing grass, harvesting grass.

The wall of a sheep pen built with cow dung. This is to protect the sheep from the cold northerly wind during the winter.

The wall of a sheep pen built with cow dung. This is to protect the sheep from the cold northerly wind during the winter.

The grass is used as cattle and sheep fodder, so that they can survive the winter and spring.

The grass is used as cattle and sheep fodder, so that they can survive the winter and spring.

A small wind turbine, which provides power for lighting, television and mobile phone for Damrin’s family.

A small wind turbine, which provides power for lighting, television and mobile phone for Damrin’s family.

An old oxcart. Damrin said the oxcart was used until the 1970s.

An old oxcart. Damrin said the oxcart was used until the 1970s.

A telescope is an essential tool for herders. Damrin is watching the sheep through his telescope.

A telescope is an essential tool for herders. Damrin is watching the sheep through his telescope.

Damrin’s brick house, with a small truck and motorbike outside. Mongolian yurts, oxcarts and horses have quietly disappeared from the herders lives.

Damrin’s brick house, with a small truck and motorbike outside. Mongolian yurts, oxcarts and horses have quietly disappeared from the herders lives.

The sun shines into the house.

The sun shines into the house.

In 1990, Damrin was named the outstanding communist by the local party comity. The award was hung in the most conspicuous place in his room.

In 1990, Damrin was named the outstanding communist by the local party comity. The award was hung in the most conspicuous place in his room.

Damrin family’s breakfast: beef and mutton cooked the day before, butter, cheese, as well as their own home made fried pancake. All of these are eaten together with hot milk tea.

Damrin family’s breakfast: beef and mutton cooked the day before, butter, cheese, as well as their own home made fried pancake. All of these are eaten together with hot milk tea.

Sheep spend the night here.

Sheep spend the night here.

Early morning. A new lamb is standing beside her mother, watching the distance thoughtfully.

Early morning. A new lamb is standing beside her mother, watching the distance thoughtfully.

This is the left hand side of the barbed wire. The paper mill discharge waste sludge on this land more than five years. Following protest by Damrin and other herders, the mill moved out nine years ago, leaving this contaminated land.

This is the left hand side of the barbed wire. The paper mill discharge waste sludge on this land more than five years. Following protest by Damrin and other herders, the mill moved out nine years ago, leaving this contaminated land.

We found a dead sheep in the sludge, when Damrin guided me to this land of death. Now, no one is in charge of this piece of land. The local government told Damrin that it is impossible to restore the polluted land into its original state.

We found a dead sheep in the sludge, when Damrin guided me to this land of death. Now, no one is in charge of this piece of land. The local government told Damrin that it is impossible to restore the polluted land into its original state.

The dead sheep’s eye, is looking towards us, while beyond, on the right-hand side of the barbed wire, the place is full of life.

The dead sheep’s eye, is looking towards us, while beyond, on the right-hand side of the barbed wire, the place is full of life.

After it been kicked out from Dmrin’s place, the mill moved to another grassland.

After it been kicked out from Dmrin’s place, the mill moved to another grassland.

Following the local resistance movement, the paper mill went bankrupt few years ago.  It left the herders with this land of death…

Following the local resistance movement, the paper mill went bankrupt few years ago. It left the herders with this land of death…

Australian National University Website – http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/news-events/all-stories/open-village#.VQIeFMlfZgc