“Mongolia: Valley of the Bears” – A Tribute to Nature’s Guardians

Our Head of Education MG (Munkhnaran) shares her thoughts on the award-winning "Mongolia: Valley of the Bears" documentary featuring WildMongolia's expert Tumursukh Jal.

Deep in the outer edges of Mongolia’s northernmost province Khuvsgul is the Red Taiga, a part of the Northern Hemisphere’s diverse biome and protected national park that spans over a million acres. Think lush greenery, deep blue lakes, evergreen forests, and mountain ranges that make us believe that giants once walked them. Little explored, remote, and home to various ethnic tribes that have roamed the land for centuries, this area is known for its rich fauna and flora.

Tumursukh, a renowned park ranger of the protected Red Taiga National Park and WildMongolia’s partner in the Khuvsgul region, is one of the main protagonists of a recently released, critically acclaimed documentary by the award-winning filmmaker and artist Hamid Sardar. This film artfully depicts the nuanced conflict between local communities and park rangers, showcasing the tension that unfolds between the traditional nomadic lifestyle of the people and the imperative to conserve local wildlife.

WildMongolia’s Head of Education, MG (Munkhnaran) shares her thoughts on this film.

When the screen glows with the serene landscapes of Darkhad Valley in northern Mongolia in “Mongolia: Valley of the Bears,” I find myself captivated by the untold tale of Mr. Tumursukh Jal, fondly known as Tumurji, the guardian of this pristine wilderness. Hamid Sardar’s documentary is a stirring journey of dedication and sacrifice.

Through Sardar’s lens, we are transported straight into Tumurji’s world amidst the chaos of Siberian Forest fires. The fires disrupt everything—the peaceful scene turns chaotic as bears flee for safety. Tumurji, the head park ranger, stands front and center, torn between protecting people and wildlife. The movie captures Tumurji’s struggle in keeping the balance and peace between local people and precious wildlife, and how his leadership shines through the chaos under such immense pressure.

Tumurji’s wisdom is rooted in a deep understanding of both the human experience and the delicate equilibrium in nature. His approach transcends traditional conservation methods; it exemplifies the influence of trust, empathy, and transformation. When engaging with locals, his focus goes beyond mere education or rule enforcement; it centers on forging emotional connections with their hearts and minds.

Tumurji acknowledges that those who were once hunters or poachers were not inherently enemies of nature but were often compelled by circumstances or a lack of alternatives. He identifies the potential for these individuals to transition from adversaries to guardians. Through his leadership, Tumurji builds trust within the community, establishing a secure environment where former hunters and poachers can embrace new roles as stewards of the environment.

Tumursukh in a lively discussion with the local community leaders

He listens to their stories, comprehends their perspectives, and provides them with an opportunity for redemption and purpose. This underscores the transformative power at play—how individuals, once engaged in harmful activities, can be guided to nurture, and protect. Tumurji’s approach transcends rule enforcement; it aims to instill a sense of ownership and responsibility in these individuals. By empowering them with knowledge, skills, and pride in preserving their surroundings, he fundamentally transforms their relationship with nature.

The narrative of former adversaries evolving into protectors represents a beacon of hope and the potential for positive change. Tumurji’s story serves as an inspiration, encouraging us to believe in the possibility of redemption, transformation, and the inherent connection between humanity and the natural world.

There are many heart-warming moments in the film, from the rescuing of the lost bear cubs to Tumurji’s teaching of kids about wildlife conservation and love of nature. We understand here that his goal isn’t just saving animals; it is about making sure future generations cherish and protect nature.

Tumursukh and his fellow rangers in the wilderness of the Red Taiga

Tumursukh and his fellow rangers in the wilderness of the Red Taiga

Through Sardar’s lens, I didn’t just witness a tale of environmental urgency; I embarked on an emotional rollercoaster, discovering the sacrifices made not only by Tumurji but also by his family, the unsung heroes behind the scenes, supporting his mission.

The documentary sheds light on the dangers faced by those who stand as custodians of nature, and their relentless dedication.

“Mongolia: Valley of the Bears” isn’t merely a documentary; it is an invitation to walk alongside Tumurji in his quest to safeguard nature’s treasures. His story awakens a dormant sense of responsibility within all of us, nudging us to take even the smallest steps toward protecting our fragile environment.

If you live in Europe, you can stream “Mongolia: Valley of the Bears” on ArteTV’s online platform.

About Tumursukh Jal

Tumursukh Jal has been a dear friend and a Red Taiga expert for WildMongolia since its founding. With his profound knowledge and expertise, he contributes significantly to crafting extraordinary experiences and designing unique routes through the untamed Red Taiga for the visitors of WildMongolia.

His eco camp based in the beautiful and remote Ar Davkhar Peninsula is one of WildMongolia’s key destinations where guests can truly enjoy the serenity and beauty of Mongolia’s famous Khuvsgul Lake, in near isolation from the hustle and bustle of the modern world.