Millions of years ago, Mongolia was home to a variety of dinosaur species. Today, wealth of fossils can be found almost perfectly preserved in the arid climate and sandy soils of the Gobi desert. The majority of Mongolian landscape is wide open steppe grasslands.
Forests contain wolf, wild boar, elk, deer, antelope and brown bear. Steppes and forest margins contain marmot, muskrat, box, gazelle, steppe box, and sable. Remote mountains contain wild cats such as the lynx and snow leopard. Mongolia is also home to wild ass, camel, and sheep. The Gobi Bear, an indigenous species that lives on berries, grass roots, leaves, and bamboo, inhabits the Gobi Desert and its surrounding mountains. The Takhi wild horses, which were extinct in the wild for nearly 30 years, was reintroduced in early 1990s. Over 500 takhi now living two protected area.
Bird life is rich and includes golden eagle, bearded vulture and other birds of prey. Mongolia’s 2.000 lakes are also magnets for water birds, including storks, herring gull, and relict gull. These lakes are also home to many unique fish.
Mongolia has a rich fauna , consisting of 140 species of mammals, 415 species of birds, 22 species of reptiles, eight species of amphibians, 80 species of fish , and over 15.000 species of insects. White tailed gazelles make up the largest number of large wild mammals with a staggering population of 2 million. In Mongolia, nature has been preserved in its purity over vast areas. This can be explained by the relatively late onset of industrialization and the low population density (1.6 people per sq. km). Also, the mountain range surrounding UlaanBaatar was proclaimed a protected territory nearly 200 years ago.
The steppes in the east and west are splendid pastures that are rather diverse. Ratchet of salty soil are typical of the steppe zone. In the wooded northern regions, marl and roe are common. Northern deer and musk deer are found less frequently, though wild boar can be found everywhere. Of the fur bearing predators, fox, Corsica, lynx, ermine, and the Siberian weasel can also found. Antelope can be found in the steppe zone as well. In the past few years, the population of wolves has shown a marked increase. Wolves live in both the steppe and the forest areas. One may come across brown bears in coniferous forests in some regions and snow leopards in the Gobi Altai.
The most widespread Denison of the Mongolian steppes and plateaus is the tarbagan marmot. Its flesh is tender and highly palatable, and its fur, especially that of the Altai species, is highly rated on the world market. Representatives of rare species such as the khavtgai camel, the wild ass, the mazalai bear, and he black-tailed antelope inhabit the Gobi region. In some mountain regions and in the Gobi, you may come across the argali mountain ram and the Yangir /Ibex/ mountain goat.
The world of birds is varied as well. The forests are inhabited by' mountain ouzel, blackbirds, wood grouse, and black grouse. The rivers and lakes abound in waterfowl, including the white swan, the pelican, and the cormorant. The grey crone and the bustard are common on steppes and on the shores of the lakes. The snow cock can be found high altitude of mountain regions, the meat of which is said to have healing properties. Birds of prey include the eagle, the white-tailed sea eagle, the hawk, the falcon, the harrier, and the black griffon.
Mongolian rivers are a paradise for anglers. There is practically no commercial fishing in the country, so the rivers and lakes abound with salmon trout, sturgeon, green fish, grayling and other valuable species. Lake Khuvsgul and some northern rivers boast white salmon, while in the Balj and the Onon River are home to trout.
Despite the beautiful countryside, Mongolia has its share of environmental problems. In 1987, the first national Red Data Book was published; a second edition was released in 1997. The Red Data Book provides a scientific basis for the government’s nature conservation policy, listing 50 rare animal species and some 70 plants that are on the verge of extinction. Animals listed in the Red Data Book include the mazalai bear of the Gobi, the takhi wild horse ( Prjewalski horse), the khavtgai wild camel, the Mongolian wild ass, the Ussuri elk, the red wolf, the irvis (snow leopard), and the Altai Mountain ram. Among the plants are the guilder rose, dour juniper, and Mongolian Adonis.