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Mongolia: Ulaanbaatar Signs Up Nature's Engineers to Restore River

A Eurasian beaver is netted and placed back in its cage for further monitoring before it is released. (Photo: Pearly Jacob)

Ulaanbaatar is importing foreign experts to combat falling water levels in Mongolia's third longest river. Qualifications include sharp incisors, flat tails and webbed toes.

Meet the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber). If all goes according to plan, the task of restoring the headwaters of the Tuul River will be left to these rotund rodents, with extra thanks to Germany and Russia. At home, due to poaching, their numbers have declined sharply in the past 20 years. But in May, Germany gifted 14, and Russia another 30—just for this special task.

With their sharp, ever-growing teeth, beavers fell trees and build dams to flood areas for protection from predators. Many scientists believe beavers can contribute to river ecosystem regeneration and restoration because their natural dams help maintain river levels during dry spells, while the flooded areas help nourish the soil and promote plant growth.

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Pearly Jacob is a freelance journalist based in Ulaanbaatar.

Mongolia: Ulaanbaatar Signs Up Nature's Engineers to Restore River

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