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The Dukha tribe in Northern Mongolia unexpectedly faced an existential territorial conflict. It was their self-commitment that allowed them to retain their ancestral nomadic lifestyle.

The Dukha tribe in Northern Mongolia unexpectedly faced an existential territorial conflict. It was their self-commitment that allowed them to retain their ancestral nomadic lifestyle.

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We are a globally operating financial expert with Swiss roots.

At Vontobel, we actively shape the future. We create and pursue opportunities with determination. We master what we do - and we only do what we master. This is how we get our clients ahead.

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The Dukha tribe in Northern Mongolia unexpectedly faced an existential territorial conflict. It was their self-commitment that allowed them to retain their ancestral nomadic lifestyle.

This image shows a girl of the Dukha tribe named Tool. When the reindeer are two years old (‘dongor‘), the Dukha start to domesticate them. As adults are too heavy to ride them at that age, children are the first to do so. A year later, adults take over to train the fully-grown reindeer (‘hoodai‘).

In the northern Khövsgöl Aimag of Mongolia lives a small community of nomadic reindeer herders, the Dukha (Цаатан, Tsaatan). Their life centers around their reindeer, which they treat with the utmost respect and see as part of the family. The reindeer are also a crucial source of milk, yogurt and cheese, as well as transport in the taiga, where temperatures can drop to -50°C in the harsh Mongolian winters.

The mutual trust of the Dukha and their confidence in themselves have been absolutely crucial to the survival of their way of life. But their principles faced a sudden challenge when, during the Cold War the Dukha found themselves forced to abandon their territory and give up their nomadic lifestyle.

As shamanism and animism traditions were forbidden, they lost even more of their traditions. Later, when domestic animals were collectivized, the existential fear grew even stronger, as without them, the Dukha were not able to maintain their way of life.

Two generations later, with a decrease in the territorial conflict, the remaining families decided to go back and try to live in the taiga again, resuming the traditional lifestyle they had almost lost.

Despite the extremely difficult circumstances they faced, they remained confident of their way of doing things. It is due to this determination and commitment to their roots that today, about 40 Dukha families continue to live their nomadic life, together with 650 reindeer, in the rugged terrain of the Khövsgöl Aimag.

About the photographer

Jeroen Toirkens (Netherlands, b. 1971) studied Photographic Design at the Royal Academy for the Visual Arts in The Hague. Since 1995, he has worked as an independent photographer and filmmaker, focusing on social documentary photography and slow journalism. Toirkens has had his work published extensively in national and international newspapers and magazines around the globe.

It was in 1999, while documenting the nomad families in Turkey’s Bolkar Mountains and the way of life of the Yörük in Anatolia, who suffered under the pressure of a modernizing Turkey, that Toirkens discovered his fascination for the subject. Subsequently, he initiated a project called NOMADSLIFE and since then has visited the Dukha five times, meeting each family.

In 2011, Toirkens underscored his commitment to the Dukha by founding the NOMADSLIFE Foundation, which provides funding in order to give young Dukha people access to an education. Currently, nine students benefit from this offer.

Apart from the Dukha, Toirkens has documented nomadic tribes in Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Russia, Turkey, northern Siberia, Alaska and the taigas of southern Siberia and northern Mongolia. Over the years, his work on nomads has received numerous awards.

Jeroen Toirkens – the Interview

This image shows a girl of the Dukha tribe named Tool. When the reindeer are two years old (‘dongor‘), the Dukha start to domesticate them. As adults are too heavy to ride them at that age, children are the first to do so. A year later, adults take over to train the fully-grown reindeer (‘hoodai‘).

In the northern Khövsgöl Aimag of Mongolia lives a small community of nomadic reindeer herders, the Dukha (Цаатан, Tsaatan). Their life centers around their reindeer, which they treat with the utmost respect and see as part of the family. The reindeer are also a crucial source of milk, yogurt and cheese, as well as transport in the taiga, where temperatures can drop to -50°C in the harsh Mongolian winters.

The mutual trust of the Dukha and their confidence in themselves have been absolutely crucial to the survival of their way of life. But their principles faced a sudden challenge when, during the Cold War the Dukha found themselves forced to abandon their territory and give up their nomadic lifestyle.

As shamanism and animism traditions were forbidden, they lost even more of their traditions. Later, when domestic animals were collectivized, the existential fear grew even stronger, as without them, the Dukha were not able to maintain their way of life.

Two generations later, with a decrease in the territorial conflict, the remaining families decided to go back and try to live in the taiga again, resuming the traditional lifestyle they had almost lost.

Despite the extremely difficult circumstances they faced, they remained confident of their way of doing things. It is due to this determination and commitment to their roots that today, about 40 Dukha families continue to live their nomadic life, together with 650 reindeer, in the rugged terrain of the Khövsgöl Aimag.

About the photographer

Jeroen Toirkens (Netherlands, b. 1971) studied Photographic Design at the Royal Academy for the Visual Arts in The Hague. Since 1995, he has worked as an independent photographer and filmmaker, focusing on social documentary photography and slow journalism. Toirkens has had his work published extensively in national and international newspapers and magazines around the globe.

It was in 1999, while documenting the nomad families in Turkey’s Bolkar Mountains and the way of life of the Yörük in Anatolia, who suffered under the pressure of a modernizing Turkey, that Toirkens discovered his fascination for the subject. Subsequently, he initiated a project called NOMADSLIFE and since then has visited the Dukha five times, meeting each family.

In 2011, Toirkens underscored his commitment to the Dukha by founding the NOMADSLIFE Foundation, which provides funding in order to give young Dukha people access to an education. Currently, nine students benefit from this offer.

Apart from the Dukha, Toirkens has documented nomadic tribes in Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Russia, Turkey, northern Siberia, Alaska and the taigas of southern Siberia and northern Mongolia. Over the years, his work on nomads has received numerous awards.

Jeroen Toirkens – the Interview

Get up.
Own your success.

At Vontobel, we constantly challenge the consensus. Driven by the promise of what could be, we inspire our clients with new perspectives, no matter how radical they may be.

Go your way.
Own your success.

At Vontobel, we constantly challenge the consensus. Driven by the promise of what could be, we inspire our clients with new perspectives, no matter how radical they may be.

Imagine you’re standing at the abyss. Not only do you survive, but you push your life forward to a dimension no reasonable person could have ever expected. This is the extraordinary story of Timmy Turner.

Imagine you’re standing at the abyss. Not only do you survive, but you push your life forward to a dimension no reasonable person could have ever expected. This is the extraordinary story of Timmy Turner.

Imagine you’re standing at the abyss. Not only do you survive, but you push your life forward to a dimension no reasonable person could have ever expected. This is the extraordinary story of Timmy Turner.

The image shows a surfer using a finless surfboard. This is not the most popular way to surf, but there are good reasons to do so. Not only does it allow the surfer to travel at very high speeds with zero drag, it is also considered to be ideal for surfing long, smooth point waves. It’s an extremely unconventional technique that is characterized by individualism. In the situation in the image, the model went for a simple paddle between the floes in Jokulsarlon Lagoon, Iceland, in order to explore the terrain.

Timmy Turner (37) is a professional surfer and filmmaker, husband and father of six kids, from Huntington Beach, California. Turner is unique. What started at the tender age of five turned into a passion that allows no fear when he faces the gnarly dangerous waves he rides. Getting barreled is nothing ¬– it is in his blood, he claims. Ironically, it wasn’t a wave that in 2005 nearly ended his life.

Coming from the third generation of a family that lives and works in Huntington Beach, Turner has always been attracted to water. Traveling the globe to surf has only been a question of when, not if. Turner wasn’t made to hit the overcrowded hotspots; nor were his friends.

They chose to surf beyond the well-trodden paths, without the luxury of hotels. Raw and feral, untamed, existing in a purely natural state – these are more than just ideas, they’re his promises to himself.

It happened in December 2005, not in Hawaii or far away in Bali, as one might expect. It happened right on Turner’s home turf. During a practice swim, Turner was infected with the bacteria methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), commonly known as staph. It infected his paranasal sinuses, the cavities behind the nose and forehead, most probably through contaminated water.

As it is resistant to commonly used antibiotics, MRSA started to eat its way through his sinuses and skull, quickly leading to a swollen brain and a 106F degree (41.5°C) fever, and then a coma. On December 17, 2005, in Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach, Dr. Richard Kim opened Turner’s skull and looked at the most severe brain infection he had ever seen.

From a medical standpoint, Dr. Kim saw little reason for hope. Nevertheless, during the two-hour surgery, he removed three quarters of Turner’s skull, in order to relieve the stress caused by the swollen brain and to clean out the infection.

Turner was released from hospital in February 2006. He had to wear a helmet to protect his head, as his skull was still missing. It was April by the time Dr. Kim was able to put in a fake skull – two synthetic molds held in place by 15 screws. It goes without saying that Turner was told to stay away from tropical waters where staph thrives. What the doctors meant was that he should give up surfing.

Not surprisingly, Turner was not willing to do that. Driven to return to what he loves, he started to explore the opportunities offered by the world’s oceans. And he found the answer: the risk of staph is not present in cold waters. After some clarification with his doctors, he started taking his board up north to Alaska, Canada and Iceland. Surfing these icy waters, surrounded by snow, glaciers and sometimes bears, he feels alive again.

His wetsuit not only protects him from the risk of an open gash when streaking a reef, but also keeps him warm, thanks to coils running through the back.

Surfing cold waters
with Timmy Turner

The image shows a surfer using a finless surfboard. This is not the most popular way to surf, but there are good reasons to do so. Not only does it allow the surfer to travel at very high speeds with zero drag, it is also considered to be ideal for surfing long, smooth point waves. It’s an extremely unconventional technique that is characterized by individualism. In the situation in the image, the model went for a simple paddle between the floes in Jokulsarlon Lagoon, Iceland, in order to explore the terrain.

Timmy Turner (37) is a professional surfer and filmmaker, husband and father of six kids, from Huntington Beach, California. Turner is unique. What started at the tender age of five turned into a passion that allows no fear when he faces the gnarly dangerous waves he rides. Getting barreled is nothing ¬– it is in his blood, he claims. Ironically, it wasn’t a wave that in 2005 nearly ended his life.

Coming from the third generation of a family that lives and works in Huntington Beach, Turner has always been attracted to water. Traveling the globe to surf has only been a question of when, not if. Turner wasn’t made to hit the overcrowded hotspots; nor were his friends.

They chose to surf beyond the well-trodden paths, without the luxury of hotels. Raw and feral, untamed, existing in a purely natural state – these are more than just ideas, they’re his promises to himself.

It happened in December 2005, not in Hawaii or far away in Bali, as one might expect. It happened right on Turner’s home turf. During a practice swim, Turner was infected with the bacteria methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), commonly known as staph. It infected his paranasal sinuses, the cavities behind the nose and forehead, most probably through contaminated water.

As it is resistant to commonly used antibiotics, MRSA started to eat its way through his sinuses and skull, quickly leading to a swollen brain and a 106F degree (41.5°C) fever, and then a coma. On December 17, 2005, in Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach, Dr. Richard Kim opened Turner’s skull and looked at the most severe brain infection he had ever seen.

From a medical standpoint, Dr. Kim saw little reason for hope. Nevertheless, during the two-hour surgery, he removed three quarters of Turner’s skull, in order to relieve the stress caused by the swollen brain and to clean out the infection.

Turner was released from hospital in February 2006. He had to wear a helmet to protect his head, as his skull was still missing. It was April by the time Dr. Kim was able to put in a fake skull – two synthetic molds held in place by 15 screws. It goes without saying that Turner was told to stay away from tropical waters where staph thrives. What the doctors meant was that he should give up surfing.

Not surprisingly, Turner was not willing to do that. Driven to return to what he loves, he started to explore the opportunities offered by the world’s oceans. And he found the answer: the risk of staph is not present in cold waters. After some clarification with his doctors, he started taking his board up north to Alaska, Canada and Iceland. Surfing these icy waters, surrounded by snow, glaciers and sometimes bears, he feels alive again.

His wetsuit not only protects him from the risk of an open gash when streaking a reef, but also keeps him warm, thanks to coils running through the back.

Surfing cold waters
with Timmy Turner

Keep your focus.
Own your success.

At Vontobel, we concentrate on our clients. We ask questions – even uncomfortable ones – to understand their goals and deliver solutions that fit.

Discover what
drives us

We live up to our ownership mindset.

We think and act like owners: we think long-term and take action today. We trust our people’s abilities, give them room to maneuver, and empower them to take personal responsibility in every position. We actively recognize and cultivate their competencies. We encourage them to meet the highest standards, both as specialists and as people, to take ownership of their work and to realize their full potential.

We actively shape our future.

We have unwavering confidence in the future and in our ability to transform change and potential into opportunities. It is up to us to create and actively pursue investment opportunities that get our clients ahead. We relentlessly strive for improvement in order to capture the full potential of the future for our clients, for Vontobel, and for the communities where we live and work.

We make an impact.

We are highly-qualified professionals. We are specialists. We master what we do, and only do what we master. We use our expertise to anticipate future developments and to deliver solutions that help our clients realize and exceed their goals and expectations. We put our clients first and take pride in ensuring that each client benefits from a unique Vontobel experience. We take every possible step to protect their interests.

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