Despite a sometimes hostile climate, many remarkable species make Mongolia their home. The country houses a range of vegetation including representatives from Siberia’s coniferous taiga forest, the Central Asian steppe and desert, and the Altai Mountains. Researchers have tallied over 3000 vascular plants, 927 lichens, 437 mosses, 875 fungi, and numerous algae in Mongolia. 150 species are native to Mongolia and over 100 plant species have been listed as rare or endangered. Many of the country’s species remain to be classified.

Mongolia’s animals vary from the majestic to the shaggy, from the adorable to the strange. The country has 136 different mammals, more than 400 types of birds, 76 species of fish, 8 species of amphibians, and 22 species of reptiles. Many visitors arrive with plans to track and hunt, but others hope only to catch a glimpse and snap a photograph of Mongolia’s wolves or one of the nation’s endangered snow leopards.

Central and northern forest areas house wild boar, elk, roe deer, brown bears, and wolves, while the steppe and forest edges support populations of marmot, muskrat, fox, steppe fox, and sable. A lucky traveller can find lynx, wild cats, wolves, snow leopards, and the world’s largest wild sheep, as well as the Siberian ibex.

Several species common to Central Asia are found in the Gobi Desert and the steppe, including the Mongolian subspecies of the saiga antelope, four species of jerboa, and one type of vole. The Gobi and the eastern Mongolian steppe are also inhabited by thousands of gazelle. The world’s rarest animal, the Gobi bear, lives in the south-western part of Mongolia’s great desert, while an abundance of wild ass and wild camels roam the territory. Argali and the Gobi ibex inhabit rocky mountains within the Gobi region.

After not being seen for decades in Mongolia, the last remaining species of truly wild horse, known as the Takhi or the Przewalski Horse, were reintroduced to their native country from captivity in the 1990s and early 2000s. The horse can now be found in several of the nation’s parks.

Mongolia’s rich bird life features golden eagles, bearded vultures and many other birds of prey. The country’s 2,000 lakes attract water birds including storks and gulls, as well as storks and pelicans in eastern regions. Vultures and eagles regularly dot the skies around Mongolia, while rare birds like the Altai snowcock and the mute swan can occasionally be observed in the countryside.