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Thursday, February 9, 2017

[MNT falls for 6th day; 2Y bonds reach 18%; no more daylight saving; and dangerous levels of lead found in children]

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

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Jump to: Int'l Market - Local Market - Economy - Politics & Legal - Business - Ulaanbaatar - Diplomacy - Health & Education - Culture & Society - Nature & Environment - Sports - Art & Entertainment - Travel

Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original

 

HEADLINES

Int'l Market

·         Turquoise Hill Investor Presentation, February 2017

·         TerraCom: BNU Hard Coking Coal Mine Activities Update

·         Rio Tinto Rewards Investors as Profit Rebounds on Iron Rally

Local Market

·         MSE Top 20 +0.55%, ALL +0.32%, Turnover ₮34M Shares, ₮241.1M T-Bills

Economy

·         MNT falls for 6th day against USD

·         BoM issues ₮177 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding +4.7% to ₮556.5 billion

·         ₮60 billion 28-week t-bills auctioned at 17.514% discount with ₮90 billion bids

·         ₮2.5 billion 2-year bonds auctioned at 18% coupon from available ₮5 billion

·         Copper Jolted Higher as Threatened Disruptions Point to Deficit

·         Chinese buying lifts seaborne coking coal market but doubts linger

·         A fillip for iron-ore, but is it sustainable?

·         Gold settles higher, extends rally to a fifth day in a row

·         Oil prices slump on bloated US fuel inventories, stalling China demand

Politics & Legal

·         Consumer protection agency says gas price hike illegal

·         Draft agenda for Parliament spring session approved

·         Government Policy Approved on Information and Communication

·         Mongolia suspends Daylight Saving Time

·         Substitute Military Servicemen to Get Paid ₮5.052 million

·         Cabinet approves awards for best agricultural workers and entities

·         Mongolia's Amended Law Makes Domestic Violence a Criminal Offence

·         AmCham Daily Newswire for February 8, 2017

Business

·         NOW is the Time to Start-Up in Mongolia!

·         200 new technologies and agriculture products ready for production

Ulaanbaatar

·         GoGo News finds hazardous levels of lead poisoning in Ulaanbaatar children

·         Emission analyzers installed at thermal power station 4

·         Apartments for 4,800 families commissioned under Ger District Re-planning

·         State inspection on new airport acknowledges progress made on correcting violations

·         Ulaanbaatar Mayor meets with Australian Ambassador to Mongolia

Diplomacy

·         Mongolian Ambassador to Kuwait presents credentials

·         Japan's 'Grass Roots' Programme': success in eastern Mongolia

·         Policy Research Center introduces studies on Mongolian foreign policy

Health & Education

·         Problem identification workshop on adolescent mental health commences

·         Four Mongolian universities takes part in Erasmus+ project  

Culture & Society

·         From Sydney to Ulaanbaatar: Grace Brown's new life in Mongolia

·         Mongolian accomplishments on the world stage so far in 2017

Nature & Environment

·         Saiga Antelopes Are Struck Again by a Plague in Central Asia

·         Saiga Conservation Alliance: Help Us Save Mongolia's Unique Wildlife

·         Beaver population down due to willow cutting

·         THE NEW WEST: From the Gobi to Greater Yellowstone

·         Cabinet Approves Joining Agreement on Establishing Asian Forest Cooperation Organization

Sports

·         Mongolia sending 13 judokas to Paris Grand Slam

·         The Ice Man Runneth: In Conversation with Scottish Ultrarunner Dr. Andrew Murray

·         Authentic sumo hot pot that nurtures mightiest champion (Hakuho) lands in Hong Kong

Art & Entertainment

·         Miss World Mongolia 2016 auditions for Disney's Mulan

·         'Alive' solo paint exhibition on display

·         S.Munkhbaatar's painting selected as Int'l Watercolor Biennale's Top 10

·         Actor B.Zoljargal Delves into Play 'Tsartsaa Namjil', a Legendary Children's Tale

·         This 13-Year-Old Is an Actual EAGLE HUNTER

Travel

·         "Steppe Horses" Winter Festival 2017, 17-19 February, Tuv Aimag

·         Winter horse racing attracts tourists

·         Mongolia Eagle Festival: Steppes, Deserts & Nomads

·         Zennergi: White Birch Tree Sap Healing Retreat in Mongolia

 

 

ARTICLES

Int'l Market

TRQ closed +0.56% Wednesday to US$3.58

Turquoise Hill Investor Presentation, February 2017

Oyu Tolgoi: Creating long-term value at world's best developing copper project

Link to preso

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TER trading +9.09% midday at A$0.036

TerraCom: BNU Hard Coking Coal Mine Activities Update

February 9 -- TerraCom Limited (TerraCom or the Company) (ASX: TER) is pleased to provide a further update on positive progress made across on a number of critical business activities in Mongolia:

·         Coking coal is flowing from the BNU Mine building coal stockpiles to deliver on the Kingho offtake agreement.

·         The coal will begin being delivered to Kingho from 10th February, when the Border re-opens following Chinese New Year, and thereby allowing funds under the LC to be paid to the Company.

·         The BNU on site CHPP feasibility study was approved by Mineral Professional Council (MPC) in December 2016 and the Company has just received the Final Resolution of the Chairman of the MPC Meeting.

Coal Mining Progressing

Link to release

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Rio Tinto Rewards Investors as Profit Rebounds on Iron Rally

  • Iron ore surged 81% last year as China stimulus spurred demand
  • Dividend beats analysts expectations; $500 million buyback

February 8 (Bloomberg) Rio Tinto Group will pay a much higher dividend than expected and buy back $500 million of shares after the world's second-biggest mining company reported the first gain in annual profit since 2013.

Higher iron ore prices boosted underlying profit 12 percent to $5.1 billion in 2016, London-based Rio said on Wednesday. That beat the $4.75 billion average estimate of analysts compiled by Bloomberg.

The dividend fell 21 percent to 170 cents a share, reflecting a new policy aligning the payout to earnings. Still, that exceeded the average estimate of 136 cents in the Bloomberg survey and the company's minimum payout of 110 cents. Rio will purchase U.K.-listed shares throughout this year.

"What a difference a year makes," Peter O'Connor, an analyst at Shaw & Partners Ltd. in Sydney, said in a note. "It's been a long grind back from the global financial abyss that Rio slumped into. But it certainly looks and feels like the 'old school' Rio swagger is back."

The global mining industry is rebounding from a downturn that forced some of the top producers to sell assets, cut costs and rein in spending after years of over-investment bloated balance sheets and left markets oversupplied. Iron ore, Rio's main profit driver, surged 81 percent last year as Chinese stimulus supported local steel output, leading to better demand for overseas ore.

"Rio is in good shape today," Chief Executive Officer Jean Sebastien Jacques said on a call with reporters after the results. "We have kept our promises. We have delivered cost savings. We have strengthened the quality of our portfolio. We are investing for the long term and at the same time we have strengthened our balance sheet."

The company is in a "strong position to deliver superior shareholder returns," he added.

Shares Rebound

Rio shares rebounded from a seven-year low to rally 60 percent in London in 2016. The stock is up 9 percent this year and reached an almost four-year high in late January. The Sydney-traded shares rose 0.8 percent to close at A$65.69 on Wednesday.

Prices for iron ore delivered to China are near a two-year high. The main question for Rio and competitors including BHP Billiton Ltd. and Vale SA is whether the rally can be sustained.

"The government has implemented stimulus packages for some time now and we believe they will continue, especially in the context of the leadership conference scheduled for the fourth quarter in Beijing," Jacques told reporters. "The property and construction market is doing pretty well. As far as China is concerned, we do not have a big issue today."

Banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc. are seeking to gauge how easily new low-cost supply will be absorbed and if higher prices will prompt additional output.

There are signs that Chinese customers are well stocked. Inventories at Chinese ports reached a record last week and shipments from Australia's Port Hedland hit an all-time high for the month of January.

Shortly before taking over the CEO role from Sam Walsh in July, Jacques outlined his vision to grow the company through investing in existing projects and expanding profitable operations, rather than focusing on deals.

Jacques is leading the 144-year-old mining giant's retreat from coal as part of a broader plan to slim Rio's asset base that has resulted in $7.7 billion of disposals since 2013.

Last month, he agreed to sell most of the company's thermal coal assets to a firm controlled by China's Yanzhou Coal Mining Co. for $2.45 billion. The sale, which would leave Rio with just two remaining coal mines once completed, had raised expectations of bigger returns to shareholders.

Rio's net debt fell 30 percent to $9.6 billion at the end of last year. The coal disposal could help reduce borrowings to $3.9 billion by the end of 2017, Deutsche Bank AG has said.

Link to article

Link to list of related articles

Link to RIO results

Link to RIO results presentation

Link to RIO new share buy back programme announcement

Back to Headlines

Local Market

MSE Trading Report, Feb 8: Top 20 +0.55%, ALL +0.32%, Turnover ₮34 Million Shares, ₮241.1 Million T-Bills

February 8 (MSE) --

Link to report

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Economy

Reds are when MNT fell, greens when it rose. Bold reds are rates that set a new historic high at the time.

BoM MNT Rates: Wednesday, February 8 Close

 

2/8

2/7

2/6

2/3

2/2

2/1

1/31

1/30

1/27

1/26

High

Date

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USD

2,479.41

2,477.86

2,476.13

2,474.20

2,471.00

2,463.13

2,459.44

2,463.23

2,465.63

2,474.49

2,498.75

1/10/2017

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EUR

2,639.58

2,646.85

2,662.33

2,661.50

2,667.07

2,655.38

2,631.48

2,635.53

2,631.57

2,655.25

2,681.43

11/10/2016

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JPY

22.07

22.10

21.96

21.87

21.90

21.69

21.66

21.47

21.40

21.75

23.49

11/9/2016

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GBP

3,095.42

3,080.23

3,088.72

3,097.33

3,129.89

3,097.02

3,070.61

3,092.09

3,095.97

3,124.79

3,183.26

8/13/2014

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RUB

41.64

41.85

42.21

41.69

41.18

40.85

40.91

40.93

40.89

41.43

54.32

6/27/2014

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CNY

360.20

360.36

360.78

360.20

359.07

357.93

357.39

357.94

358.29

359.65

363.02

1/5/2017

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KRW

2.16

2.16

2.18

2.16

2.15

2.13

2.11

2.09

2.10

2.13

2.18

2/6/2017

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SGD

1,746.68

1,748.97

1,756.68

1,750.41

1,751.55

1,742.08

1,734.01

1,727.13

1,725.79

1,744.81

1,757.02

1/18/2017

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CAD

1,880.69

1,884.45

1,900.69

1,898.85

1,899.02

1,883.56

1,878.01

1,874.60

1,880.87

1,890.80

1,908.84

1/18/2017

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AUD

1,890.67

1,892.59

1,895.11

1,892.27

1,889.45

1,864.84

1,859.71

1,859.49

1,856.25

1,869.72

1,895.11

2/6/2017

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HKD

319.56

319.42

319.20

318.88

318.44

317.45

317.02

317.47

317.80

318.97

322.21

1/10/2017

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CHF

2,480.03

2,486.44

2,490.32

2,490.14

2,495.33

2,485.25

2,471.67

2,466.07

2,461.20

2,474.98

2,497.77

11/09/2016

Bank USD rates at time of sending: Khan (Buy ₮2,474 Sell ₮2,484), TDB (Buy ₮2,478 Sell ₮2,486), Golomt (Buy ₮2,474 Sell ₮2,484), XacBank (Buy ₮2,474 Sell ₮2,484), State Bank (Buy ₮2,472 Sell ₮2,484)

USD (blue), CNY (red) vs MNT in last 1 year:

Link to rates

Back to Headlines

BoM issues 177 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding +4.7% to ₮556.5 billion

February 8 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 177 billion at a weighted interest rate of 14.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

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₮60 billion 28-week t-bills auctioned at 17.514% discount with 90 billion bids

February 8 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 28 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 60.0 billion MNT. Face value of 60.0 billion /out of 90.0 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 17.514%.

Link to release

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2.5 billion 2-year bonds auctioned at 18% coupon from available 5 billion

February 8 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 2 years maturity Government Bond was announced at face value of 5.0 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1.0 million MNT. Par value of 2.5 billion /out of 2.5 billion bid/ Government Bond was sold with weighted average yield of 18.000 % and a coupon of 18.000%.

Link to release

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Copper Jolted Higher as Threatened Disruptions Point to Deficit

  • Goldman Sachs, Barclays, UBS see potential for prices to climb
  • Supply slowdowns looming at world's two biggest copper mines

February 8 (Bloomberg) Copper rallied with other metals as strengthening prospects of disruptions at the world's two largest mines threatened to send the market into a global shortage.

"We expect copper will move into deficit in the coming months, driving the next leg higher in prices," Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts including Max Layton and Jeff Currie said in a report Wednesday. While the bank's six-month target remains at $6,200 a metric ton, risks surrounding the forecast are skewed to the upside, they said.

Copper for delivery in three months advanced 1.7 percent to settle at $5,895 a metric ton at 5:50 p.m. in London on Wednesday, as all other major industrial metals and gold rose.

Copper has surged by more than 25 percent in the past year amid sustained demand from China and the anticipation of higher infrastructure spending and tax cuts from U.S. President Donald Trump. Prospects for supply disruptions at BHP Billiton Ltd.'s Escondida in Chile and Freeport-McMoRan Inc.'s Grasberg in Indonesia increase the potential for prices to continue rising.

"Last year we could have been in a balanced situation," Jean-Sebastien Jacques, chief executive officer of Rio Tinto Group, told reporters Wednesday in London after the world's second-biggest mining company reported underlying 2016 profit that beat analysts' estimates. "I could see easily a scenario where you have a deficit or are short in 2017."

Goldman said that while there are concerns about monetary tightening in China, the moves have been small and are in the context of a credit boom. The acceleration in demand from the metals-intensive industries of the old economy because of strong credit growth will help create a shortage in the copper market, according to the bank. A deficit this year would be the first since 2011, says Citigroup Inc.

Workers at Escondida vowed to start an indefinite strike starting Thursday as talks with BHP failed to produce an agreement following weeks of collective bargaining. In Indonesia, exports of unprocessed copper from Freeport's mine in Papua province have halted as the company negotiates with the government on the terms under which it operates in the country.

Freeport may start curbing production if the ban on concentrate shipments continues. "We have a limited amount of storage space and we would need to take steps no later than mid-February," Chief Executive Officer Richard Adkerson said on a conference call last month.

Barclays Plc has forecast a surplus of 39,000 tons this year, assuming 5 percent of worldwide primary production of 20.7 million tons is lost to disruptions. A stoppage at Escondida would remove about 24,000 tons a week, potentially pushing the market into a deficit, the bank said last week.

UBS Group AG sees supply disruptions increasing in 2017 from last year and forecasts prices to average about $6,600 a ton, according to Sydney-based analyst Daniel Morgan. Citigroup sees a global shortage of 59,000 tons this year.

Link to article

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Chinese buying lifts seaborne coking coal market but doubts linger

February 8 (Metal Bulletin) Trades involving premium hard coking coal have livened up the seaborne market for the steelmaking raw material, leaving participants pondering over the direction of prices in the near term.

A cargo of low-vol product was traded around $185 per tonne cfr China, market sources told Metal Bulletin on Wednesday February 8. "The pick-up in prices is possibly due to China's return after the [Chinese New Year] break but I am not sure how sustainable this is," a ...

Link to article

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A fillip for iron-ore, but is it sustainable?

CAPE TOWN, February 8 (miningweekly.com) – The past year has been a volatile but positive one for iron-ore, with higher prices helped by a burst of demand from China.

Panelists at the Investing in African Mining Indaba, being held in Cape Town, this week, agreed that there was still great uncertainty in the iron-ore market, with Macquarie director Ian Roper describing the market as "a bit overheated".

Rio Tinto chief commercial officer for the Simandou project Elias Scafidas said Rio Tinto's results, published on Wednesday, were "really good" and driven by cost reductions, hard work and higher prices.

"We are continuing to see really good margins. But as businesses, we all face significant volatility with the uncertainty in global markets. This has the potential to impact not only on commodity prices, but on currencies, growth and industry fundamentals."

Together with the other panelists, he said China continued to be a major focus, particularly in terms of the property and infrastructure sector. Scafidas said he expected the stimulus offered by China to continue for the rest of the year.

He pointed to key areas that will be relevant in 2017, including the health of the Chinese economy, the need to focus on driving strategy, with the level of uncertainty in the market, and the shift in terms of high-pollution steel mills as they are coaxed to drive down environmental impact.

Scafidas said this was good news for producers, who expected to see demand switch from low-grade to high-grade iron-ore.

On the supply side, he expects to see 40-million additional tons coming on stream this year.

"We've seen domestic steel production decrease from 400-million tons to 230-million tons. At the moment, it's at around 260-million tons."

Roper said China had a bearish five-year plan, with less road and rail construction, but it had "massively front-loaded" it with lending.

"The demand was all about infrastructural stimulus in the second half of the year, with the rest of the Chinese economy filtering through. Now it is all about how quickly they take the foot off the gas.

"I'm getting a bit more cautious. Things are a bit too hot and need to cool down. We don't think it's sustainable at this level, as property sales are already declining."

Kumba Iron Ore logistics GM Anesan Naidoo said the China stimulus was greater than was expected earlier in the year.

"We saw property transaction taxes and mortgage down-payments lowered. Taxes came down. And that created a strong recovery on steel prices."

Naidoo foresees a move to higher-quality ore in China, given the pressure to reduce the high pollution rate and poor air quality.

"The trend is to go for a value versus volume strategy."

Iron-ore developments are expected to remain stagnant.

"We don't need a single new greenfield iron project to be developed," stated Roper.

He said the scrap cycle also continued to be a "big killer" for iron-ore. In developed economies, nearly half of the output comes from scrap. Scrap represents some 12% of supply in China and is expected to rise, as China becomes more environmentally conscious.

"China could double its scrap consumption and incentives will be there to do that," said Roper.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Gold settles higher, extends rally to a fifth day in a row

Silver futures end lower after 3-session gain

February 8 (CNBC) Gold futures climbed for a fifth-straight session on Wednesday as geopolitical uncertainty kept prices at their highest settlement level in about 13 weeks.

April gold rose $3.40, or 0.3%, to settle at $1,239.50 an ounce—the highest finish since Nov. 10, according to FactSet data.

Market participants attributed the latest run, at least in part, to persistent uncertainty about President Donald Trump's political agenda.

Analysts at The 7:00's Report said that for gold, three things bear watching: the dollar, interest rates and sentiment toward stocks.

The yield on the long bond has declined, the dollar has weakened and stocks have struggled. "If these three trends continue, gold will be able to sustain further gains, but if markets begin to shift back into Trump-on, that will be a headwind for gold prices," they said.

Worries about instability in Europe also provided support for gold.

European election speculation could also keep the currency and metals markets active. The coming election in France is seen as a potential headwind for markets, in the wake of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen launching her presidential campaign over the weekend.

Year to date, gold has gained more than 7%, while the ICE U.S. Dollar Index has lost around 1.8% so far this year. DXY was up 0.4% Wednesday as gold prices settled, denting some of the earlier gains for dollar-denominated gold prices.

Still, a pause for what had been rising interest rates has lifted gold's appeal. Lower yields make it less attractive to invest in assets that offer interest, sending more investors to precious metals, which don't bear a yield.

Meanwhile, March silver bucked the trend in the metals sector to finish lower after a three-session rise. The contract lost 5.1 cents, or 0.3%, to $17.705 an ounce.

March copper tacked on 3.5 cents, or 1.3%, to $2.667 a pound, getting a boost ahead of an expected strike at Chile's Escondida mine. April platinumrose $6.50, or 0.6%, to $1,019.40 an ounce and March palladium ended at $769.75 an ounce, up $5.30, or 0.7%.

The physical gold-backed SPDR Gold Trust was up 0.5%, the iShares Silver Trust rose 0.2%, and the VanEck Vectors Gold ETF added 0.8%.

Link to article

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Oil prices slump on bloated US fuel inventories, stalling China demand

* U.S. crude oil, gasoline inventories soar as demand stalls

* Chinese oil demand growth also falters amid economic slowdown

* Crude futures down over 6 percent since OPEC-led cuts started

SINGAPORE, Feb 8 (Reuters) Oil prices dropped on Wednesday to extend falls from the previous day, as a massive increase in U.S. fuel inventories and a slump in Chinese demand implied that global crude markets remain oversupplied despite OPEC-led efforts to cut output.

Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were trading at 54.53 per barrel at 0111 GMT, down 52 cents, or 0.94 percent, from their previous close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $51.52 a barrel, down 65 cents, or 1.25 percent.

The slumps on Wednesday came after over 1-percent falls the previous day.

Traders said that the sharp declines came on the back of unexpectedly big increases in U.S. crude and refined product inventories, as reported by the American Petroleum Institute (API) on Tuesday.

Crude inventories rose by 14.2 million barrels in the week to Feb. 3 to 503.6 million barrels, compared with analysts' expectations for an increase of 2.5 million barrels.

Gasoline stocks rose by 2.9 million barrels, compared with analyst expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.1-million barrel gain.

"Weekly data points to U.S. gasoline demand falling sharply by 460,000 barrels per day (bpd) year-on-year in January, with such declines only previously during recessions," Goldman Sachs said in a note to clients following the data release.

However, the U.S. bank said that "this data vastly overstates a likely modest year-on-year decline in gasoline demand," and that its "outlook for global strong demand growth (remains) unchanged".

Outside the United States, there were other signs of market weakness.

China's 2016 oil demand grew at the slowest pace in at least three years, Reuters calculations based on official data showed.

China's implied oil demand growth eased to 2.5 percent in 2016, down from 3.1 percent in 2015 and 3.8 percent in 2014, led by a sharp drop in diesel consumption and as gasoline usage eased from double-digit growth.

The slowing occurred as the economy expanded by only 6.7 percent in 2016, the slowest pace in 26 years.

Slowing demand and ongoing high inventories undermine efforts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers including Russia to cut output by almost 1.8 million bpd during the first half of this year in order to prop up prices and rebalance the market.

Despite this, both Brent and WTI are down over 6 percent since early January, when the cuts started to be implemented.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Politics & Legal

Consumer protection agency says gas price hike illegal

February 8 (news.mn) Since Sunday, the price of petrol price has increased by MNT100-150 per litre at some stations belonging to Shunkhlai LLC, Magnai LLC, Petrostar LLC and NIC LLC. However, the Mongolian Authority for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection has announced that this increase was illegal and demanded that the price be lowered. According to regulations, companies must announce their plans for increasing prices in advance.

Link to article

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Draft agenda for Parliament spring session approved

Ulaanbaatar, February 8 (MONTSAME) During its meeting on February 7, Tuesday, Parliamentary Standing committee on State Structure discussed and decided to submit to Parliament a draft resolution on 'Agenda for Parliament spring session of 2017'.

Parliament autumn session will close on February 10, Friday, and the Parliament must approve its agenda for the spring session.

As a result of a poll on the spring session agenda, 99 draft laws and legislations were collected, and 34 drafts have been selected. The selected draft legislations include important documents such as 2018 national budget framework paper, 2019-2020 budget assumption, Cabinet financial report of 2016, draft resolution on 2018 scheme for social and economic development of Mongolia, draft bill on amendment to the Constitution, draft resolution on medium term program for development of statistical sector in 2016-2020, draft bill on Mongolia's foreign policy, draft bill on accountability of government higher officials either elected or appointed, revised bill on public service and others.

The Standing committee thus agreed to submit the list of 34 proposed draft bills and regulations to Parliament.

Link to article

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Government Policy Approved on Information and Communication

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ During its regular meeting on February 8, the Cabinet discussed and approved a 'Government policy on information and communication development', and Cabinet members, Mayor of Ulaanbaatar, governors of provinces were assigned to have an action plan to realize the policy on national level approved, and enforce the implementation.

The policy will be implemented through two phases. In the medium term or 2017-2020, the Government plans to intensify the growth of this sector and renovate the legal environment with aim to develop export-oriented, innovation-based industry.

In the long term or 2021-2025, the Government will ensure the information and communication sector's growth, cultivate a new industrial sector with high economic benefit based on high technology and innovation, and facilitate the new sector's potential to contribute to economic, social and human development.

Today, the length of cable television network in Mongolia has reached 35,363 kilometers, and that of radio-relay network 8,400 kilometers, with every provincial and soum centers being connected to mobile network. 

The number of mobile phone users was 235 thousand in 2002, but reached 3 million and 110 thousand by the first half of 2016 which indicates that Mongolia's mobile cellular subscriptions rate per 100 people is 144 which is comparatively high. 4G or the fourth generation of mobile telecommunications technology was introduced to Mongolia last year, and 135 thousand subscribers use the network.

During the last 20 years of internet service, about 60 internet service providers have emerged in Mongolia, with the number of regular internet users reaching 2 million and 500 thousand, about 90 percent of whom use 3G network.

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Mongolia suspends Daylight Saving Time

February 8 (news.mn) On 8th of February, a regular meeting of the Mongolian Cabinet suspended  Daylight Saving Time also known as Summer Time. Under Resolution No.82 issued in 2015, from the last Sunday of every March until the last Sunday of September, clocks were to be put one hour forward.

MPs say that arbitrary changes of time badly influence human health and interferes with international train and flight schedules.

The decision to adopt Daylight Saving Time was first made in Mongolia under Resolution No.245 in 1960.

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Substitute Military Servicemen to Get Paid ₮5.052 million

Ulaanbaatar, February 9 /MONTSAME/ In yesterday's cabinet meeting, the Government approved the number of substitute military servicemen in 2017 and has defined payment at MNT5.052.230, if one replaces military service with money.

Substitute military servicemen are trained with defense skills and entitled to participate in actions to enforce quarantine regime during human and animal infectious disease outbreak as well as prevent from, rescue and recover loss and impact of natural and other disasters. Moreover, the servicemen take part in construction works in cities and countryside.

Payment rate for substitute military service is defined based on one year variable cost for supply and services to per compulsory military serviceman.

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Mogi: remnant of communism

Cabinet approves awards for best agricultural workers and entities

Ulaanbaatar, February 9 /MONTSAME/ During its regular meeting on February 8, the Cabinet assessed documents regarding the best agricultural workers' reward sent from 21 provinces and the capital city to the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry on the basis of 75 criteria.

The Cabinet resolved to award the 'State Leading Herder' title to 103 herdsmen, 'State Best Herder' to 5 herdsmen, 'State Leading Dairymaid' to 5 dairymaids, 'State Leading Farmer' to 5 farmers, 'State Foremost Agrarian Group' to 12 agricultural entities and 'State Foremost Agrarian' to 21 people.

The state leading herders belong in an age range of 26-78, gave about 32 thousand heads of livestock to some 400 poor households for the last 3 years, and have supplied about 42 thousand heads of livestock to market. For the last 3 years, the herders earned MNT 18 billion, investing MNT 1 billion to animal husbandry industry. As for the state foremost agrarian entities, 11 of them work in wheat farming whereas 1 works in vegetable farming.

The herders, agrarians and dairymaids who have successfully fulfilled the requirements for the above titles will be presented with a medal, certificate, Mongolian Ger and other rewards before Lunar New Year which falls on February 27.

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Mongolia's Amended Law Makes Domestic Violence a Criminal Offence

February 8 (Asia Foundation) Last December, Mongolia's Parliament passed an amended version of the 2004 Law to Combat Domestic Violence. Recent amendments have made domestic violence a criminal offence for the first time in the country's history and mark a critical step forward for victims of this type of violence.* This is a particularly momentous step for Mongolian women, who, despite the country's relatively high score on gender equity measurements, experience high levels of domestic violence.**

This change demonstrates the government's commitment to combating domestic violence, protecting domestic violence victims, and holding perpetrators accountable. However, barriers that impede the effective implementation of the law remain. These include a lack of comprehensive victim protection, uneven cooperation between legal institutions, and scarce financial resources. Another challenge is the limited knowledge among the police, prosecutors, and judges as to how to carry out the specific provisions of the law while taking a victim-centered approach.

In Mongolia, the police play a crucial role in the implementation of the law, as they are often called upon to intervene when an act of violence is in progress or shortly after it has occurred. Under the law, specific duties such as interviewing witnesses, conducting a coordinated risk assessment, or filing an official report on the complaint, are given to police officers. This is in addition to the requirement of the police force to be on the front line as first responders to calls about domestic violence. Police often report that while they respond to a large number of calls of domestic violence, they feel undertrained in this area. The attitude and response of police can have a dramatic impact on ensuing developments, including the prevention of future acts of violence and the protection of victims. They are also central to ensuring that perpetrators of violence are held accountable for their actions. The quality of police work is crucial in determining whether court proceedings are instituted or a person is convicted.

To support the police in this area, The Asia Foundation, in partnership with the Law Enforcement University's Academy of Management (LEU), recently brought together 85 police officers and 17 cadets from all 21 aimags in Mongolia for a series of three training sessions to equip them with the skills and knowledge of how to respond to and manage domestic violence situations where victims are in a sensitive and vulnerable position.

Responding to this unique opportunity to ready law enforcement for anticipated changes to the 2004 law, The Asia Foundation and LEU developed a training curriculum focused on victim-centered approaches to engaging with victims of violence to be used during the training sessions. The training was interactive and participatory, with officers and cadets sharing their experiences from their local communities and learning from each other's experiences. Exercises were conducted to help participants reflect on their attitudes toward domestic violence, the impact of violence on victims, victim-witness interviewing, and the advantages of a multidisciplinary and multi-stakeholder approach to domestic violence. Case studies generated lively discussions among participants, especially regarding how police officers can investigate and help prove an instance of domestic violence when there is no evidence of physical injury, and how legal provisions from the criminal code can be used to charge offenders.

Throughout the technical sessions, participants also discussed the challenges they face when pursuing cases of domestic violence, such as a lack of coordination and convergence between stakeholders, the relative absence of economic empowerment rehabilitation programs for victims, and how inadequate data-keeping processes create gaps in recording the prevalence of domestic violence and formulating adequate responses.

The inclusion of the training materials, which look at stages of victimization, types of violence, investigation and evidence collection, and the role of stakeholders and legal frameworks, into the overall training curriculum helps to ensure that police as first responders, investigators, supervisors, and managers continue to benefit from identified good strategies, theories, and best practices. This will in turn help them to enhance the safety and security of women and others at risk of domestic violence in their communities.

The police in Mongolia play a significant role in safeguarding the rights of women and vulnerable groups. Enhancing the practices of the police force is a foundational move toward helping the police better implement the amendments to the Law to Combat Domestic Violence. Proactively engaging with law enforcement at the early stages of implementing the amended law will also serve as a platform for other organizations that are working on domestic violence issues.

*Under the amended law the first instance of Domestic Violence is not considered a criminal act, but the second act of Domestic Violence is. Articles 120.1 and 120.2 of the Criminal Code states that administrative measures (fines or warnings) will be taken for first instances of domestic violence. If actions considered as domestic violence are continuously committed, it will be viewed a criminal offence and appropriate measures (confinement) will be taken.

**Implementation of Mongolia's Domestic Violence Legislation: A Human Rights Report by the Advocates for Human Rights and the National Center Against Violence, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 2014.

Ashleigh Griffiths is a project officer for The Asia Foundation in Mongolia and is currently participating in the Australian Volunteers for International Development program. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and not those of The Asia Foundation or its funder.

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AmCham Daily Newswire for February 8, 2017

GOVERNMENT

Fiscal Standing Committee convenes to discuss legislation and a loan from Poland

Summary: The Fiscal Standing Committee held its final hearing for an amendment to the Law on the State's Special Funds, and agreed to submit the amendment to Parliament for further review. Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry P. Sergelen presented information about a loan proposed by Poland, which would allow the Government of Mongolia to receive financing of up 50 million EUR to be invested in Mongolian agriculture, infrastructure, education, and environmental protection. As suggested by the Head of the Fiscal Standing Committee, Ch. Khurelbaatar, the first hearings for an amendment to the Law on Budget and the Law on the Regulation of Development Bank were postponed.

Keywords: foreign loans, bilateral relations, Poland | Daily News /page 2/


Constitutional amendments to be discussed during Parliament's spring session

Summary: The State Structure Committee convened to review items that will be discussed during Parliament's spring session. The Head of the State Structure Committee, N. Enkhbold, noted that 99 legislative items have been received for consideration, and 34 items were chosen based on several factors. During the spring session of Parliament, amendments to the Constitution, the Law on Investment Banking, a revised bill on land ownership, a bill on ger district redevelopment, a bill on casinos, a bill on international relations, a bill on the responsibilities of high ranking appointed and elected public officials, and a bill on public officials will be discussed.

Keywords: constitutional reform, Parliament | Today /page A2/


ECONOMY

Governor of the Bank of Mongolia reports on 2016's monetary policy  

Summary: The Governor of the Bank of Mongolia, N. Bayartsaikhan, introduced data on the implementation of 2016's monetary policy and 2017's monetary policy. The central bank supplied 1.5 trillion MNT to the market. An economic recovery program was approved by Parliament and is currently being implemented. In 2016, 660 billion MNT was spent on ipotek loans, and 18.3 tons of gold was purchased, with a target of 25 tons set for 2017. The Bank of Mongolia organized 197 foreign currency auctions in 2016 and traded 1.42 billion USD and 1.85 billion CNY. The Bank of Mongolia is currently working on a currency swap agreement with the Russian, South Korean, and Japanese central banks. MP L. Enkh-Amgalan said that non-performing loans increased by 45% compared to 2015. N. Bayartsaikhan stated that 580 million USD, bond repayment, should be raised in the international market.

Keywords: monetary policy, Bank of Mongolia | The National Post /page 2/


ONLINE STORY

Deadline extended for the Erdenet-Ovoot railroad feasibility study

Summary: The National Development Agency has decided to extend the deadline to prepare prerequisites for a concession agreement for the Erdenet-Ovoot railroad.  Northern Railway, a subsidiary of Aspire Mining, is responsible for completing the railroad's feasibility study by August 2018. The Government of Mongolia approved the route for the railroad and an annual transport volume of 20 million tons. According to preliminary estimates, the cost of the railroad could equal 1.3 billion USD.

Keywords: Aspire Mining, railroads, coal | www.bloombergtv.mn

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Business

NOW is the Time to Start-Up in Mongolia!

February 8 (LehmanLaw) As we posted previously, the general corporate income tax rate for an economic entity incorporated in Mongolia is ten percent (10%) for the first 0-3.0 billion; and a 300 million MNT base tax, plus twenty-five percent (25%) tax on all income exceeding 3.0 billion MNT.

However, Parliament recently approved amendments to the Law on Corporate Income Tax. The amendment aimed at supporting "small and medium-sized enterprises" (SMEs) in particular sections by offering a 90% tax reduction for a period of several years.

The 90% tax reduction will be available to SMEs with less than 1.5 billion MNT in sales operating in the following four sectors:

  • the food production industry;
  • the clothing and textiles industry;
  • the production of construction materials; and
  • the agricultural and livestock industries and its supplementary operations.

The SMEs will be eligible to pay a 1% tax on business conducted from January 1, 2017 to January 1, 2021 (That's 4 years at a 1% corporate income tax rate!). The government believes that this will reduce the tax burden for SMEs, create a favorable environment for increasing employment, result in increased investment, encourage entrepreneurship, and increase the number of SMEs.

Now is the time to start your new operation in Mongolia!

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200 new technologies and agriculture products ready for production

Ulaanbaatar, February 8 (MONTSAME) On February 8, the first meeting of the Scientists' council under the Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry was held. The current situation of science of animal husbandry, veterinary, agriculture, food and light industry and future tasks were discussed during the meeting.

Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry P.Sergelen noted that the role of the council is to develop effective cooperation between policy makers, scientists and producers and to foster new ideas and initiatives. '- There are over 200 new technology and products are ready for direct introduction into production. It is a significant success".

According to the Minister, scientists of agriculture have invented 96 new sorts of wheat and grain, 14 sorts of potatoes, 39 sorts of vegetables and 16 sorts of berries and fruits.  And 30 per cent of the wheat and grain sorts, 60 per cent of the vegetable sorts, 70 percent of the fruit and berries sorts and all potato sorts have been utilized for cultivation.

120 technological instructions have been developed to plant various crops and introduced to production. Moreover, over 30 breeds of horse, camel, cow, sheep and goat have been created and confirmed in livestock and animal husbandry sector. Four new veterinary discoveries by Mongolian scientists have been registered to the world science, 64 types of vaccination and diagnostic devices and 72 types of medicine have been created. Exhibition of innovation products were displayed in the scope of the meeting.

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Ulaanbaatar

GoGo News finds hazardous levels of lead poisoning in Ulaanbaatar children

February 8 (gogo.mn) GoGo News Agency is appealing all media organizations to join their forces against air pollution. 

According to the WHO air quality guidelines, air pollution is safe if amount of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in air is not higher than 25 microns but it is hazardous if particles amount is higher than 500 microns. However an average levels of PM2.5 particulates reach 1000 micrograms per cubic meter in Bayankhoshuu, Zuun ail and Denjiin 1000 in winter. 

GoGo News Agency has observed the effects of air pollution on children`s health, conducting blood lead test on 15 children aged 7-10 yeas, living in 5 different areas near Bayankhoshuu, Da Khuree (Technical market), Narantuul market, city center and Zaisan for more than 2 years. 

The maximum lead level found in children was 22 mcg/dL. 

Test results were as follows:

  • Child living in Bayankhoshuu: 15,9-22,6 mcg/dL,
  • Child living in Da Khuree (Technical market): 5,7-10 mcg/dL
  • Child living in city center: 4,2-8 mcg/dL
  • Child living in Narantuul market: 4-4,3 mcg/dL
  • Child living in Zaisan: No blood

Lead can harm a child's both physical and mental growth, behavior, ability to learn, kidney and hearing. 

Air pollution is the major factor, resulting high blood lead level in children. Also it is affected by many other factors including paint, toys, water, canned food, dust and soil containing lead, jewelry, plastic food container and petrol.

In regards, we are submitting following proposal to the Prime Minister J.Erdenebat Health Minister A.Tsogtsetseg. 

  • Conduct bio-monitoring sample survey of toxic heavy metals in the human body nationwide. Knowing their children`s blood lead level, parents will be able to take an appropriate action to reduce the level. 
  • Conduct survey and analysis nationwide to identify the sources of lead poisoning. As a result, well-informed citizens will eliminate the source of lead poisoning.
  • Establish lead inspection and surveillance system. Health care organizations to take systematic measures to reduce lead poisoning. Also, it will include prevention of chronic poisoning and treatment to neutralize the poison. 

We will publish the detailed test results as series and we will continue to investigate the risk factors causing lead poisoning. We are pleased to work with media and professional organizations.

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PM2.5 reaches 1,732 micrograms per cubic meter in Bayanhoshuu

February 9 (GoGo Mongolia) As of today at 9AM, (Feb 9th), air pollution reaches hazardous levels in three areas of Ulaanbaatar city. 

According to the agaar.mn, an air quality monitoring webstie, levels of PM2.5 particulates reaches;

  • 1732 micrograms per cubic meter in Bayanhoshuu,
  • 958 micrograms per cubic meter at an area nearby Mongolian National Public Television,
  • 938 micrograms per cubic meter at an area nearby Tolgoit. 

According to the WHO air quality guidelines, air pollution is safe if amount of particles in air is not higher than 25 microns but it is dangerous if particles amount is higher than 301 microns.

Levels of PM2.5 particulates, which are the most hazardous to health, in heavily polluted areas of Ulaanbaatar city exceeds 69 times above the recommended levels, as compared with the World Health Organization safe level of 25. 

CAUTIONARY STATEMENT

Everyone should avoid all physical activity outdoors; people with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should remain indoors and keep activity levels low. 

Households should close the window during the most polluted periods (from 6AM to 10AM and 5PM to 9PM).

Moreover, residents should wear PM2.5 pollution mask regularly when go outside. Also, use of air conditioning is effective way to improve indoor air quality. 

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Emission analyzers installed at thermal power station 4

Ulaanbaatar, February 8 (MONTSAME) An event to receive emission analyzers to measure the smoke and pollutant for the Thermal Power Station No.4  state owned JSC in Ulaanbaatar city was held on February 8.

The analyzers are installed at the Thermal Power Station-4 the power distribution company with non-refundable assistance from the Government of Japan. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Thermal Power Station-4 have been cooperating since 2013 to install analyzers for smoke emitted from electric furnaces of the station within the framework of the second stage of the capacity building project for air pollution control in Ulaanbaatar.

As a result, the Thermal Power Station received two analyzers and equipment for calculating nitric oxide, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and oxygen discharged from each furnace of the station and one analyzer to estimate dust density. The equipment is granted by the Japanese Government's funding of JPY 37.6 million.

The "Rutan" company has worked as an executor of setting up analyzers at the thermal power station. Moreover, the specialists of the Japanese companies of Horiba and Tanaka came in Mongolia in October 2016 to carry-out installing and testing works of the analyzers and to organize training to workers of the station.

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Apartments for 4,800 families commissioned under Ger District Re-planning

Ulaanbaatar, February 8 /MONTSAME/ It has been over three years since the Ger district re-planning project was put into operation. During the time, residential apartments for some 4800 families have been commissioned.

The Department of Ger District Development of the Ulaanbaatar City Administration reports that constructions for same number of apartments are underway. The Citizen's Representative Khural of Ulaanbaatar city has approved a plan to implement a re-planning project in 24 locations of 1500 ha land of the capital.  As of late 2016, tripartite agreement was established for 1469 unit areas and out of that, 1472 unit areas were released.

The estimated number of households living in the Ger district area is around 220 thousand. The re-planning project, which was inaugurated in 2013 was previously aimed at building apartments for 71 thousand households by 2020.  It is reported that around 186 thousand families have applied for the re-planning project in the past.

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State inspection on new airport acknowledges progress made on correcting violations

Ulaanbaatar, February 8 (MONTSAME) On February 7, Tuesday, State Commission to inspect the construction and equipment of new Ulaanbaatar International Airport (NUBIA) project held a meeting, and agreed that violations detected during the inspections are being corrected.

The 85-member commission led by B.Tsogtgerel, Deputy Minister of Road and Transport Development worked at the airport on January 2-17. The State Commission was divided into 11 sub-working groups assigned on different fields such as air navigation service, aerodrome, road facility, customs inspection, architecture, energy supply, communications, fuel supply and others.

Totally, 31 buildings, facilities and equipment at the airport were under inspection, and minor violations were detected.

Main contractor, prime sub-contractor, project unit and sub-contractors were instructed to correct the violations. An administrative division of the pre-operational NUBIA is currently in charge of monitoring the correction.

The State Commission resolved during its meeting that about 60 percent of the total violations have been corrected. However, after all the violations are corrected, the Commission will organize a re-inspection within the first season of this year.

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Ulaanbaatar Mayor meets with Australian Ambassador to Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar, February 8 (MONTSAME) On February 7, S.Batbold, Mayor of Ulaanbaatar and Governor of the Capital city received John Langtry, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Australia to Mongolia.

At the meeting, the Mayor and the Ambassador talked about issues concerning a scholarship program of the Australian government and establishment of sisterhood ties between Australian and Mongolian cities.

Mayor S.Batbold thanked Ambassador John Langtry to Mongolia for meeting him and underlined that he is confident that the Embassy of Australia in Ulaanbaatar will help deepening the future bilateral ties of the two countries in the fields of economy, investment, education and mining.

In response, Ambassador John Langtry said "The Embassy of Australia has been working in Ulaanbaatar since 2015. During that time, the Embassy has been implementing waste management projects and other projects through the Asia Foundation. Currently, 82 Mongolian students are studying in Australia with the government's scholarship. We will increase the number of Mongolian students to be involved in the scholarship program in the future". 

Moreover, the Embassy will carry-out measures on establishing sister city ties between some bigger cities of Australia Mongolia" the Ambassador added. 

Ambassador John Langtry is the first resident Ambassador of Australia to Mongolia.

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Related:

More Mongolians to receive scholarships to Australianews.mn, February 8

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Diplomacy

Mongolian Ambassador to Kuwait presents credentials

Ulaanbaatar, February 8 (MONTSAME) Newly-accredited Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the State of Kuwait Z.Chintushig presented his diplomatic credentials to His Highness the Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on February 7.

After the ceremony, the Emir received the Ambassador for a bilateral meeting. Ambassador Z.Chintushig conveyed heartfelt greetings from the President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj. He pledged to put efforts to upgrading bilateral relations and expressed belief that the Emir will by all means support those efforts.

The Emir of Kuwaiti underlined the importance of broadening the ties between Mongolia and Kuwait and extended gratitude for the hospitality shown by Mongolia during all visits from Kuwait. He expressed his confidence that the bilateral ties would prosper during the years new Ambassador in office.

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Japan's 'Grass Roots' Programme': success in eastern Mongolia

February 8 (news.mn) Kikuchi Minoru, adviser to the Japanese Ambassador in Mongolia has visited Dornogovi, a province in the east of the country. On 7th-8th of February, he examined the progress of the 'Grass Roots' programme, which the Government of Japan has been implementing since 1990.

G.Erdenetsetseg, Deputy of Governor of Dornogovi introduced some projects to be implemented at the provincial museum and at two secondary schools (numbers 1 and 5).

His Excellency Masato Takaoka, Japan's new Ambassador to Mongolia officially took over in December, 2016. He succeeds Takenori Shimizu, who recently ended his five-year posting to Ulaanbaatar and returned to Tokyo.

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Policy Research Center introduces studies on Mongolian foreign policy

Ulaanbaatar, February 8 (MONTSAME) On February 8, research teams of the Center for Policy Research presented the results of first two of their studies at the School of International and Relations and Public Administration (SIRPA) of the National University of Mongolia.

The studies considered the decision-making mechanism of Mongolia's foreign policy and the coordination between Mongolia's geo-economic interests and the implementation of the Programme on Establishing Mongolia-China-Russia Economic Corridor.

The Center was established last year under the SIRPA, with a general objective to help make the policies more research-based, far-sighted and effective through presenting policy studies and recommendations.

At today's meeting, M.Batchimeg MP, Director of the Diplomatic Academy of Mongolia Kh.Bekhbat, members of the research teams, SIRPA professors and officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Finance and the National Development Department.

The study on "Improving the Decision making Mechanism of Foreign Policy of Mongolia" was led by the State Honored Lawyer J.Enkhsaikhan, former Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the United Nations. The research team has been working with the lawmakers since 2014 and has successfully submitted a recommendation, which the lawmakers accepted and proceeded with, to prepare and present a draft law on Foreign Relations.

"The bill was included in the list of agendas to be discussed by the Parliament's Autumn Session. However, the parliament postponed the reading of the foreign relations bill until the next session. I believe the bill will be discussed thoroughly and passed at the spring session", M.Batchimeg MP told MONTSAME. According to her, the law, if adopted, will fill the gap of regulations on accountability system for foreign policy administrators.

Afterwards, the research team leader Ambassador J.Gulguu gave a presentation on the findings of study on economic corridor. Establishing the Mongolia-China-Russia economic corridor will help Mongolia to become an active participant in the regional economic integration, as the corridor will also serve the interests of China to build the shortest cut to Russia and Europe and Russia's interest to activate the Trans-Siberian railroad usage.

The Program on Establishing Mongolia-China-Russia Economic Corridor reflects 32 major projects, the complete studies on which will be conducted throughout 2016-2020.

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Health & Education

Problem identification workshop on adolescent mental health commences

February 8 (gogo.mn) Problem identification workshop on adolescent mental health is taking place today at Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar Hotel, gathering sector specialists, academics, professionals, service providers, citizens, youth and other stakeholders including National Center for Mental Health National Center for Maternal and Child Health, City Health Department, Public Health Institute, National University of Mongolia, Mongolian Youth Federation, Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and relevant NGOs, with a mission to discuss the mental health concerns with the representatives from different sectors and to find innovative solutions. 

"Some of the best solutions are to find a space where adolescents can communicate. One of the problem behind mental health of adolescents is they feel alone, they feel isolated. So we need to create space where they feel can communicate. We can use mobile phones, applications, internet this is why we are connecting this why we are connecting this reflection to IT opportunities. The most important thing is to create a safe space for adolescents to communicate, exchange, ask for advice and receive good advice. 

There are number of issues that are particularly important. One is an indication that we receive that the raise of attempted suicide or number of adolescence thought about committing suicide in Mongolia is significant. We need to consider that. But also the high rise of sexually transmitted infections among adolescents. Almost 44 percent of the cases of STIs in Mongolia are within the adolescence age group. These are the indication that we need to take this very seriously. This is why we gather this process of reflection with experts to try to find new solutions to these problems", said Roberto Benes, UNICEF Representative in Mongolia.

Mongolia is a young country with over 450,000 or 15.2% of the population are adolescents. According to the Adolescent Situation Analysis 2016 many issues related to adolescents' health, education, safety and well-being are not sufficiently addressed.

Among these issues as such mental health of adolescents remains overlooked and there is a growing concern on adolescents' health in Mongolia. The statistical data of 2016 in connection with these issues indicate alarming results. For example, 21.3% of children between the ages of 13 and 15 seriously considered attempting suicide during the past 12 months and 9.1% of them actually attempted suicide one or more times during the past 12 months. 

The first steps to trigger the process of creating effective mechanisms of inter-sectoral collaboration and providing adolescent friendly mental health services were initiated by the City Health Department and UNICEF in May 2016. In addition to these and other efforts, UNICEF Mongolia in collaboration with Mongol Content LLC (MOCO) and Creative Workshop LLC (CW) has launched a Youth Innovation Challenge for Adolescents Health in Mongolia project to offer new avenues for engaging and empowering young people as drivers of social change, nurturing local innovation and talent, raising awareness around key social issues, generating new ideas and approaches to specific problems and bringing together stakeholders and resources around key challenges for children. 

In scope of the Youth Innovation Challenge for Adolescents Health in Mongolia project, two problem identification workshops is scheduled to be held. 

The second workshop on adolescent sexual and reproductive health will take place on Feb 10th. 

The best ideas initiated at the workshops will be selected and to be implemented starting next year.

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Four Mongolian universities takes part in Erasmus+ project  

Ulaanbaatar, February 8 (MONTSAME) The European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students (ERASMUS) announced a project themed 'Promoting internationalization of research through establishment of Cycle 3 Quality Assurance System in line with the European Agenda' last year, and 4 Mongolian institutions were chosen as participants, reports the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports.

The Mongolian participants of the project are the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports, Mongolian National Council for Education Accreditation, National University of Mongolia and Otgontenger University.

On February 3, a meeting was held among the project participants in Yerevan, capital city of Armenia, gathering representatives of the Education Ministries, accreditation institutions and universities of Mongolia, France, Spain, Poland, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Ukraine. During the meeting, the participants discussed future activities and expected outcome of the project.

The project aims for quality assurance system development, third cycle implementation and higher education internationalization in its participant countries by establishing Internal Quality Assurance (IQA) mechanisms and tools within higher education institutions assuring quality of Cycle 3 programs (leading to a PhD degree), and an External Quality Assurance (EQA) system to validate and promote quality of Cycle 3 programs.

The project will be implemented for three years, and the National University of Mongolia and Otgontenger University will upgrade their PhD programs.

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Culture & Society

From Sydney to Ulaanbaatar: Grace Brown's new life in Mongolia

February 9 (Domain) Mastering the art of riding a camel through the Gobi Desert while presenting a television show wasn't exactly something Grace Brown imagined she would do in her lifetime. 

Neither was filming dog sledding on a frozen river, or working in temperatures as low as minus-30 degrees, but that hasn't stopped the journalist from making the most of her new life in Mongolia. 

"My friends thought (moving to Mongolia) was crazy, but I've convinced a few to visit," the freelance video journalist said. "It's so beautifully wild in many parts, the nature is so spectacular … and being in a remote place like this means you definitely have more opportunities."

After finishing a double degree in law and international studies, the University of Sydney graduate moved to Hong Kong for a year, then onto Beijing for three years, before relocating to the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar with her husband, Nick Edwards, in August 2015.

Since making the move, Brown, who is a beginner in Mongolian, has worked for DeFacto Review, Mongolia's first English language news show and has hosted weekly talk show Talk With Me. She has also contributed to several major news outlets across the world and has worked as a media consultant for the United Nations development program. 

"I've learned so much in Mongolia, including how to film, because decent camera operators here are hard to find. I also got much more comfortable presenting through the talk show … I even learned how to host on a horse and camel," she said.

Brown, who counts interviewing the Dalai Lama and Aisholpan Nurgaiv – The Eagle Huntress – as two career highlights from her time in Mongolia, said her favourite part about her job was the people she got to meet. 

In her time off, Brown and Edwards like to spend their time exploring the countryside, and have relished the unique opportunity to go dog sledding on frozen rivers, horse riding across snowy mountains and road tripping through incredible forests.

While in the city, Brown enjoys ballets and live Mongolian music, singing karaoke in a wacky bar in a decrepit, Soviet-era building "where the floor shakes if you jump too much", and having dinner parties to escape the sub-zero temperatures.

"It is very easy to make friends here. Everyone takes you in as a newbie and welcomes you … the expat community is very small here so everyone knows each other. Combine that with the sub-zero temperatures and you become like family very quickly," she said. 

In Ulaanbaatar, home to about 1.3 million people, more than half the population live in felt gers (Mongolian yurts) surrounding the city, which has seen a population boom in recent decades, as herders leave behind the countryside due to increasingly harsh weather conditions making their traditional livelihoods unviable.

"The ger districts they live in are like shanty towns; often several families share one yard with one outdoor toilet, which is hard in minus-30 degrees," Brown noted. "They go without running water, sanitation or central heating. As a result of the extreme winter, most of those families burn coal and sometimes rubber tires to survive. In some of those districts, air pollution readings during winter are four times worse than Beijing's smog."

In a bid to reduce the dangerous levels of air pollution, the government has placed a ban on migration to the city, which prevents anyone except those who require long-term medical treatment or those who have bought an apartment from moving in until next year.

Housing, though, is expensive. Brown said two-bedroom apartments with western-style finishes in downtown Ulaanbaatar were generally priced about $US2000, but supply far outstrips demand. "There are many luxury apartment blocks standing empty or half finished, while affordable apartments remain scant; you could say there's a property bubble here." 

Brown said seeing the harsh conditions people, especially children, lived in made her appreciate the way of life offered in Sydney.

Though Brown missed being able to go to the beach, frequenting the bars and cafes of Newtown's King Street, exotic fruits and Vegemite, she doesn't have any plans to leave Mongolia just yet.

"I think I will stay a while longer, but not forever. Sooner or later my husband and I want a new chapter. I wouldn't rule out Australia some day, but at the moment it's more likely Asia," she said. 

"Living overseas has made me grow in ways I probably wouldn't have if I had never left. It wasn't always easy, but I have incredible memories to look back on. Every day is an adventure."

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Mongolian accomplishments on the world stage so far in 2017

February 8 (Mongolian Economy) The year 2017 is looking up for several Mongolians so far. Many talented boys and girls of Mongolia are showing their ability to compete on the world stage, and the success story continues.

Mongolian chefs win gold

Over 2,000 master chefs from 30 countries put their culinary skills to the test at the Istanbul International Gastronomy Festival held in the capital of Turkey. Mongolian chefs brought home gold, silver and bronze medals in the category of Asian cuisine, and three silver medals in the category of modern cuisine. Vice President of the Mongolian Master Chefs' Union R.Batbaatar along master chefs J.Otgonpurev, B.Battulga and Ts.Mendjargal represented the country and placed fourth by team score.

Master filmmakers

It has been almost a century since the motion picture was first introduced in Mongolia. The Mongolian film industry has developed to where it now competes at the global level. One example of such a film is "Eleg Negten" (The Third Eye of God) directed by Sh.Dorjsuren, who is the Director of Doz Plus Entertainment. The film won and Dorjsuren won the award for Best Director for a foreign film at the Navi Mumbai International Film Festival (NMIFF). In all, 503 films from 45 countries contested for seven nominations at the NMIFF.

Mongolian scientist get published in Nature

Mongolians are also doing their in contributing to their fellow and scientific advancement. Immunologist D.Nyambayar M.D., who works at the RIKEN National Scientific Research Institute of Japan, had his article published in Nature magazine. His discovery was related to a type of cell of the immune system known as a natural killer T-cell.

Mongolian bandy team claims bronze medal

Bandy is a winter sport similar to hockey, but played with a ball and bowed sticks. Mongolia's national bandy team won the bronze medal at the 2017 Bandy World Championship held in Sweden on January 24-29. It is a historical success for the nation's winter sports. In the bronze medal match, Mongolia played against Japan, winning 6:5.

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Nature & Environment

Saiga Antelopes Are Struck Again by a Plague in Central Asia

February 8 (The New York Times) They found the first carcasses in late December, on the frozen steppes of Mongolia's western Khovd province.

By the end of January, officials in the region had recorded the deaths of 2,500 endangered saiga antelopes — about a quarter of the country's saiga population — and scientists had identified a culprit: a virus called peste des petits ruminants, or P.P.R., also known as goat plague.

It was the first time the disease, usually seen in goats, sheep and other small livestock, had been found in free-ranging antelopes. For the saiga, an ancient animal that once roamed the grasslands of the world with the woolly mammoth and the saber-toothed tiger, the outbreak was potentially catastrophic.

The antelope's numbers, once in the millions, have been severely depleted by illegal hunting, habitat loss and competition for food. The species is described as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List.

In 2015, 211,000 saigas in Kazakhstan — more than half of the entire antelope species — were wiped out by a bacterial infection in less than a month.

"It's just one thing on top of another," said Dr. Richard Kock, a professor of wildlife health and emerging diseases at the Royal Veterinary College in London who, with colleagues, concluded that climate change had contributed to the Kazakhstan die-off.

"Once you're down to very low numbers, a species is vulnerable to extinction," Dr. Kock said. "You have to wake up to the fact that these populations really are on the brink, and you can't do anything about it if it's gone."

Dr. Kock, who has studied both saigas and P.P.R. in wildlife, recently returned from Mongolia, where he was part of a United Nations crisis team called in to investigate the mass deaths there. He and other scientists predicted that before the virus had run its course, thousands more saigas from the Mongolian population will die.

And the appearance of P.P.R. in the antelope, which probably contracted the virus from close contact with livestock that graze on the steppe, raised fears that it could spread to other threatened species, like Bactrian camels and Mongolian gazelles.

"Potentially, this could be an 80 percent mortality," said Eleanor J. Milner-Gulland, a zoology professor at Oxford and chairwoman of the Saiga Conservation Alliance. "It could be completely disastrous."

Dr. Milner-Gulland noted that the spring, when the antelopes gather together to calve, could be an especially risky time for the spread of the virus, and there is concern that it could spread to antelopes remaining in Kazakhstan.

The saigas are well adapted to the harsh conditions of the Mongolian steppe, their thick hair insulating them in the winter and their Bullwinkle noses warming frigid winter air before it reaches the lungs. The Mongolian saiga is a subspecies, smaller and stockier than its Kazakhstan counterparts, with horns of a different shape and a slightly more refined proboscis.

But both subspecies are valuable to wildlife traffickers, who poach the animals and market the horns for medicinal use in Asian countries.

Enkhtuvshin Shiilegdamba, an epidemiologist and the Wildlife Conservation Society's country director in Mongolia, said that scientists believe the virus traveled to Mongolia from China, one of 76 countries around the world where P.P.R. is active. Livestock in Khovd province began to fall ill in September, Dr. Enkhtuvshin said.

She added that the number of deaths so far was probably an underestimate, because the antelope are smallish animals and "this area is quite a large area and there is snow, so it makes it difficult to find them.

"It's likely that we already lost about 50 percent of the saiga population," she added. Even before the virus hit, a fiercely harsh winter in 2015 had reduced the population to approximately 10,000 saigas from about 15,000. P.P.R. is also suspected in the deaths of 22 black-tailed gazelles and at least one ibex.

Dr. Kock said that many of the dead antelope they examined were in poor physical condition, probably contributing to their susceptibility to disease.

The die-off, he said, came at the worst time of year, during the winter, when the animals' resistance is lower. "That is extremely bad luck and that will be reflected in the mortalities," he said.

About 11 million sheep and goats in Khovd and in a second province where saigas live were vaccinated against P.P.R. after the initial outbreak, but the vaccine was apparently not effective in preventing the virus from spreading to wildlife, suggesting that some animals were missed or that there were storage problems with the vaccines.

"I think there is commitment in the country and the political will to address the situation," said Bouna Diop, who is directing a United Nations campaign to eradicate P.P.R. by 2030.

But, he added, "there are some gaps that need to be improved, to make sure when they are vaccinating they are using good vaccine, and the vaccination is done properly."

If the saiga does survive, it may be its capacity for rapid reproduction that finally saves it. Two-thirds of pregnant female antelopes give birth to twins, and although the species plummeted to a low of 50,000 saiga in the 1990s, it rebounded with conservation efforts, reaching several hundred thousand by the time of the Kazakhstan die-off.

"It has gone down to low levels before and then gone back up again, so we're always hopeful," Dr. Milner-Gulland said.

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Similar:

Mongolia: Deadly virus causes another mass die-off of endangered Saiga antelopes - International Business Times UK, February 8

Disease Threatens Mongolia's Saiga Antelope Population Radio Free Europe, February 8

A Plague Threatens The Entire Population Of The Saiga Antelope In MongoliaScience World Report, February 8

3800 saiga died from rinderpestGoGo Mongolia, February 9

Nearly 4,000 saiga antelopes killed by plagueGoGo Mongolia, February 9

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Saiga Conservation Alliance: Help Us Save Mongolia's Unique Wildlife

An outbreak of a devastating disease, peste-des-petits ruminants (sheep and goat plague) is killing saiga antelopes and other unique and imperiled animals in Mongolia.

Already more than 2,500 saigas have suffered a horrible death, and the epidemic only seems to be picking up speed.

Experts from the Saiga Conservation Alliance's in-country partners – WWF Mongolia and WCS- Mongolia – and scientists from the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Royal Veterinary College and FAO, are on the scene, investigating the causes and working with government agencies trying to stop the spread of the disease before more of saigas and other animals fall victim to it.

What we know so far

In 2016, sheep and goat plague was recorded in domestic animals from two provinces in western Mongolia: Khovd and Gobi-Altai. The government took swift action, vaccinating over 14,000,000 livestock in the area against this disease. Tragically this has not stopped the spread of this lethal plague to vulnerable wild animals such as saigas, Ibex, Goitered Gazelle and Mongolian Gazelle. This will inevitably have knock-on effects to predators such as snow leopards which are also found in this region, as they will find it harder to find food.

Experts are advising that the outbreak is likely to continue until fresh grass comes through and animals can disperse, which will not be before late April in this part of Mongolia.

The Mongolian saiga is a unique subspecies of saiga, whose total population is found in one area of Mongolia and whose numbers were estimated at just 10,000 in 2016. As this population differs genetically from the populations found in Kazakhstan, Russia and Uzbekistan this means that the current disease outbreak has already claimed more than 10% of this subspecies, and if deaths continue unabated, the Mongolian Saiga will be in grave danger of losing as much as 80% of its population.

Chimeddorj Buyanaa, Conservation Director of WWF Mongolia noted: "The local government agencies are working in line with Mongolian legislation which requires all the bodies to be disinfected. For this purpose, in total seven burial sites have been planned. So far four of them have been filled with the infected carcasses of over 2,500 saigas and goitered gazelles. However, we estimate that over 3,000 saiga might already be dead."

What is being done to help?

Currently teams of scientists, NGOs and agencies are working together to advise the Mongolian government on a strategy to contain the disease. Updates will be issued as key decisions are reached, and these will be publicised, amongst other places, on the Saiga Conservation Alliance website and through its social media channels.

The good news is that there is a vaccine for sheep and goat plague, which means that if we can help now at Mongolia's time of need, in the longer term the disease can be controlled.

Fundraising appeal

We are launching an appeal to support efforts on the ground to save not only saigas, but the other wildlife which are affected:

Funds are urgently needed to:

1.    Support on-going research by veterinarians, scientists, NGOs and government agencies into the outbreak, previous vaccination programme and possible solutions to halt it.

2.    Monitor saigas and other wildlife populations in the area, namely goitered gazelle, ibex, argali, Mongolian gazelle, wild boar and even wild camels, to check for disease so that managers can target their vaccinations and protection in the right places.

3.    Support education and awareness amongst local people so they understand the risks of this devastating disease and how to protect both their livestock and saigas from infection by avoiding pasturing their flocks near saiga herds or disturbing saigas.

4.    Fund extra anti-poaching patrols, so that the saiga's depleted population is not further affected by opportunistic poaching.

Together we can help Mongolia's conservationists to support their unique and precious wildlife through this terrible time.

PLEASE VISIT OUR FUNDRAISING PAGE HERE, AND CONSIDER SUPPORTING MONGOLIA'S UNIQUE WILDLIFE

THANK-YOU

More news, images and video clips here from the WCS newsroom

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Beaver population down due to willow cutting

Ulaanbaatar, February 8 (MONTSAME) A rare indigenous sub-species of the Eurasian beaver known as Castor fiber birulai inhabits the Bulgan and Khovd Rivers in Khovd aimag in the west and this rodent is listed as endangered in the Mongolian Red Book. However, the population of beaver has been decreasing over the last years due to environmental deterioration.

Some researchers including chairman of biology department of Khovd University M.Otgonbaatar, zoologist D.Ganchimeg, specialist of Ministry of Nature and Tourism A.Nansalmaa, environment guard of Bulgan soum Kh.Horjin, have made survey on beavers in Bulgan and Khovd rivers. They defined beaver population density and distribution based on their footprints, lodges and track ways.

Researchers have found out that cutting of willow for fuel and building enclosure for livestock in Erdeneburen, Jargalant, Myangad and Buyant soums of Khovd aimag had influenced the population fall. Moreover beavers tend to migrate to China through river flow. Therefore, a net should be built to prevent from beaver migration abroad, consider the specialists.

Local herders grated water basin of beaver habitat to protect the area for hay-making and the researchers detected that this measure had provided favorable environment to beavers. 128 beaver families are estimated to exist in Bulgan river and 52 families in Khovd river.

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THE NEW WEST: From the Gobi to Greater Yellowstone

What endangered grizzlies in Mongolia can teach us about bruins in the West.

February 7 (Planet Jackson Hole) JACKSON HOLE, WY – Douglas Chadwick was trekking through the Himalayas in search of snow leopards when he unexpectedly spied a grizzly grazing on a mountain slope, just as he had witnessed bears umpteen occasions in his own Northern Rockies.

A conversation with his hosts ensued. Chadwick learned that a legendary cluster of grizzlies existed at lower elevation—in the bone-dry and hardscrabble Gobi Desert, a place where it's hard for even a lizard to make a living.  Being the naturalist he is, a writing scientist who has trailed bruins, wolverines and other elusive creatures, Chadwick was hooked.

Now he has a new book out, Tracking Gobi Grizzlies: Surviving Beyond the Back of Beyond with photographs by Joe Riis, the brilliant National Geographic shooter.

On Sunday night at Center for the Arts, Chadwick will deliver a public presentation on what he found in the vicinity of the Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area.

For people riveted by grizzlies—I've met few who aren't—Chadwick's program promises to be a riveting evening, for he will share insights about what the tenuous existence of the Gobi bears might portend for grizzlies in our corner of the American West. Chadwick will be joined by Mongolian bear geneticist Odko Tumendemberel and Ryan Lutey of Vital Ground Foundation.

A few days ago Chadwick and I had a chat. The Gobi covers a sweep of southern Mongolia and northern China. A lot of it looks like eastern Montana or Wyoming without the fences. "But when you get into the true desert, the terrain goes from steppe and turns into a stonescape, as if the western edge of the great American prairie turned to gravel and dust. It's more parched than the Great Basin."

A century ago, Gobi grizzlies, considered near-mystical creatures known as mazaalai, were so rare and elusive that the tracks they left behind in the sands of southwestern Mongolia fueled the legend of Yeti.

Chadwick mentioned some startling bits of natural history. In the winter, temps fall to 40-below and during summertime, when temperatures reach a broiling 120 degrees, bears sleep during the day and are primarily nocturnal.

"It's the smallest bear population in the world. It exists at the outer edge of the outer edge of normal possibility for a bear," he said. "These grizzlies are, in a way, counterparts to what's going on with polar bears and climate change. One is running out of ice and the other is running out of water."

The author is not out only to pitch his book but also to raise money for critical monitoring, conservation support and habitat protection. When you get down to around three dozen animals, every bear counts in large amounts.

Researchers have resorted to some desperate measures to boost the bears' likelihood of survivability, including supplementing their diet with artificial rations. And there's been talk about having to round up bears and move them into the safety of a captive breeding program. But this step is not yet necessary because neither low densities of grizzlies nor genetic inbreeding are problems for reproduction.

Chadwick has hope. If the bears can hold on, there's a preserve located just to the east, a protected area set aside for snow leopards, argali sheep, Siberian ibex and bearded vultures, Gobi Gurvan Sayhan Uul National Park, that could also be a sanctuary for grizzlies. The trick is protecting the corridor between.

The region is changing fast from industrial development. Opening soon nearby could be the world's largest coal mine to fuel power plants in China that, not long ago, were opening at a pace of about one per week.

"Connectivity—it's not all that different of a story from what we're trying to do here," he said. "Our grizzly bears have no goddamn idea of how good they got it for the time being.

Chadwick praises 40 years of vigilant US efforts to reverse the decline of grizzlies in the West and there were times, he says, where he thought they were destined to disappear from the Lower 48. Grizzlies today are found in more places than when they were listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1975, but Chadwick the scientist believes they are still a fair ways from biological recovery.

Amid climate change and the region being inundated by more people, the best hope of ensuring persistence is to establish a metapopulation, which means interlinking Greater Yellowstone with the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem along the U.S.-Canada border, via the Bitterroot Mountains of western Montana and public land wilderness in central Idaho.

I asked him about the commonality of the species he's written about over the years. "The most captivating and inspiring animals are more likely than not rare in this age of the Anthropocene and becoming a whole lot rarer every year," he said. "This is especially true of iconic species that capture your attention as umbrella species or as indicators of what's happening to the whole ecosystem. That's what you have with the grizzlies of Gobi and the Greater Yellowstone." PJH

Todd Wilkinson writes his award-winning column, The New West, every week, as he has done for 28 years. He is author of Grizzlies of Pilgrim Creek about famous Jackson Hole grizzly 399, only available at mangelsen.com/grizzly

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Cabinet Approves Joining Agreement on Establishing Asian Forest Cooperation Organization

Ulaanbaatar, February 9 /MONTSAME/ The Government discussed and approved to join the 'Agreement on establishing Asian Forest Cooperation Organization' and decided to counsel with relevant Parliamentary Standing Committees.

Joining the organization enables Mongolia to be involved in projects and programs regarding cooperation with regional countries in forest sector, introducing new innovations and advanced technology and developing sustainable forest management.

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Sports

Mongolia sending 13 judokas to Paris Grand Slam

Ulaanbaatar, February 9 /MONTSAME/ The Paris Grand Slam 2017 is to take place this weekend. Mongolia will be represented by 13 judokas, although 19 judokas were registered to take part in the Grand Slam.

A total of 431 athletes, 270 male and 161 female, from 60 countries have been registered to participate in the Grand Slam in Paris, to be organized under the revised rule of International Judo Federation.

Women judokas from Mongolia are World Champion M.Urantsetseg (48 kg), who is currently leading the IJF rank, L.Sosorbaram (52 kg), B.Mungunchimeg (63 kg), B.Gankhaich (63 kg), O.Javzmaa (78+ kg) and E.Gandiimaa (78+ kg), and men are B.Amartuvshin (60 kg), J.Amarbold (60 kg), G.Kherlen (66 kg), B.Erkhembayar (66 kg), N.Khadbaatar (73 kg), N.Dagvasuren (81 kg) and G.Altanbagana (90 kg).

The team is coached by Kh.Erdenet-Od. He is a retired judoka, who brought the first medal for women from Mongolia in the world championships, having won the bronze medal in 2005 Judo World Championships in Cairo. 

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The Ice Man Runneth: In Conversation with Scottish Ultrarunner Dr. Andrew Murray

February 8 (Vice Sports) Among the many races named after their distance – the 100m, the 800m, and so on – the marathon stands out as something different. Considered a stern test of human endurance, it also claims a backstory stretching to 490 BC and the Persian invasion of Greece. According to legend, a Greek messenger was sent from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated. It is said that he ran the entire distance without stopping, a decision that he presumably regretted while slumping to his death moments after delivering the good news. When the modern Olympics began in the 1890s, the distance of this journey – approximately 40km – was used for the marathon event (the current distance of 42.195km was settled upon in time for the 1920 games).

The marathon thus has its roots on the arid, dusty roads of southern Greece. It is an event where small obstacles can become insurmountable problems, given the considerable physical challenge that runners face. And so a marathon that takes competitors into temperatures of -30 degrees, through snow and across frozen lakes, represents one hell of a departure from the original.

Yet that is exactly the test that competitors sign up for when they tackle the Genghis Khan Ice Marathon. Tracing the journey made by the 13th-century Mongolian warlord, the event presents a series of unique challenges. The winner of the past two runnings, Andrew Murray, suggests one potential concern is "hitting the wall at -32 degrees, which I imagine would be a horrible experience." Fortunately, it's something he's yet to face himself.

Murray is an accomplished ultrarunner and all-round sports enthusiast. Talking to VICE Sports shortly after retaining the title he won in 2016, he is keener to stress the importance of regular exercise to a person's physical and mental health than big up his own achievement in Mongolia. Murray speaks from a place of authority on this matter, as his job away from ultrarunning is as a general practitioner.

Murray is also something of an advocate for Mongolia. He calls the event "a genuine cultural experience" where the appeal is not limited to the competition. It's about "getting to stay in remote and rural areas, getting to spend time with nomadic populations, and having the unique opportunity to run the mountains, river valleys, and frozen rivers."

"I run to see stuff, to meet people, to experience new things – that's what it was about for me," he explains.

Despite the obvious social and cultural positives, the Ice Marathon is still a serious sporting pursuit. As the name suggests it's a full marathon distance, with half marathon and 10km options also available. The terrain includes frozen rivers, snowy trails, mountain valley tracks, and roads. Given the huge commitment, fitness and bravery that it takes to run this race, it should be no surprise that only a relatively small group covers the full distance.

"For me and the majority of those doing it, because there's a small group there is that genuine sense of cultural experience," says Murray. "You don't get that with big races. I view it as an adventure, as well as an opportunity to see old friends."

Travelling first to the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar, where Murray was met with temperatures of 30 below freezing, he then headed away from modern civilisation and into the Terelj and Terkhiin national parks. "This is where you can hear the huskies, see the local habitation, see the sides of the mountains," he says.

"Then there's the marathon itself," Murray continues. "With it being at the time of year it is [late January], I hosted a couple of Burns Night suppers – one out in the middle of nowhere and another back in Ulaanbaatar."

Murray ran this year's race in 3 hours 30 minutes and clocked in at 3:07 the year before. For context, the current men's record at the London Marathon is 2:03:05, set by Eliud Kipchoge on his way to winning the 2016 race. That is, of course, not a like-for-like comparison. "I think the difference was that the snow was a bit thicker this time," he reflects. "It felt like I was running it at roughly a 2.35 or 2.40 pace, in terms of the exertion and effort required. So it felt like running a marathon and a half. If you're running through snow and on very slippery surfaces, even if you have the best shoes in the world it takes longer."

The equipment used is absolutely crucial on an event such as this and can be the difference between completing the race and requiring an emergency rescue. Murray says: "You want to wrap up with lots of thin layers, like an onion, rather than wearing big bits of kit and your sweat freezing up. Another thing is quality footwear. I always buy a size too big so as to fit a few pairs of socks. Sometimes you're wading through snow but others you're on sheet ice, so you'd spend a lot of time on your backside without the right footwear. I wore the Merrell All Out Terra Ice, which have the advantage of being Gore-Tex, with little spikes in the bottom so that you can make progress without spending too much time on your arse."

Challenging as the place can be, Murray clearly feels real fondness for Mongolia. It is a country that we learn very little about in Britain, with its most famous son – the aforementioned Genghis Khan – having ruled almost eight centuries ago. The images of the marathon's route are spectacular, though Murray is equally enthusiastic about the locals he has met.

"It's a place that I love going to," he says. "The capital itself is the only place that's a modern city, with infrastructure, the internet and so on. If you go out beyond Ulaanbaatar it's unusual to meet many people. You get the feeling that it's what things would have been like a hundred years ago.

"We made a documentary for Mongolian TV while we were out there and it was interesting just to hear the intrigue about Scotland – 'you've got all these cool castles, you've got weird food like haggis, you all wear skirts'. The curiosity goes both ways.

"I was racing in Mongolia during the summer a few years ago; I had the chance to compete in a 250km stage race out there and the generosity of the locals struck me. I had to carry my own kit, but frequently people were coming out of their gers [domestic huts, known in some countries as yurts] offering me goat or cheese to eat. I saw that there were a lot of things that could be done to support their country. So I teamed up with Dave Scott of the Yamaa Trust and we raised about £80,000 by running from John O'Groats to the Sahara Desert, which is a distance of about 3,000km. Since then it's been great to have the opportunity to go back a couple of times and see some of the projects that have been instigated."

Away from ultrarunning Murray somehow finds time to work as a GP, an exercise medicine consultant, and even squeezes in a family life.

"Part of what I do is try to help people recognise the value of the great outdoors, as opposed to pills and operations, to make them better. Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. If you go from being a couch potato to exercising regularly you'll live on average seven years longer and usually be happier. It can also help prevent a number of chronic diseases, like type 2 diabetes, heart attacks and strokes. You're a bit more likely to get athletes foot and some blisters, but you'll live longer and you'll be happier with it.

"I also work for various sports organisations, doing research that looks at the science and medicine of sport and performance for the University of Edinburgh," he adds.

From what we have learned about Murray, a picture has formed of a man whose sporting passions are very much at the extreme end of the spectrum. He is, after all, the two-time winner of a race that some people would run a marathon to avoid. So we put it to him that he's probably not all that bothered about more pedestrian sports – golf, for example.

"I actually really like golf!" he responds with surprising enthusiasm. "It's outside, so you get lots of fresh air. I also like to just go for a walk with my daughters. What I don't like is sitting watching TV all the time."

Murray's commitment is admirable, and a final word from him is required to demonstrate how seriously he takes his own mantra.

"After last year's marathon I had a spare day, so I also ran another 115km back to Ulaanbaatar. But this time I just ran the standard marathon and relaxed the day after."

Just the standard marathon. No big deal.

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Authentic sumo hot pot that nurtures mightiest champion lands in Hong Kong

Japanese government snatches yokozuna's moment for its own sake

February 8 (Nikkei Asian Review) HONG KONG -- More than 1,000 Japanese restaurants call Hong Kong home, but the newest one may be a bit special to one of the nation's finest athletes -- and to the government in Tokyo.

The eatery was brought over by a record-holding sumo wrestling grand champion, Hakuho Sho, who made a rare visit to the Chinese territory Tuesday for the debut of a restaurant that specializes in an authentic hot pot dish that nurtured his career, body and strength.

The new restaurant serves chanko, a one-pot dish including vegetables, bean curd, meat, fish and other ingredients simmered together at the table. It is a staple for Japanese sumo wrestlers, and the mightiest man in the ring is no exception. "I take two meals a day, and every morning I have chanko," Hakuho said at the news conference Tuesday.

But this eatery in Hong Kong's bustling commercial district of Causeway Bay is run by a former wrestler who used to cook chanko for Hakuho. When the future grand champion, or Munkhbat Davaajargal in his real Mongolian name, flew in from the landlocked country 16 years ago at the age of 15, he weighed only 62kg. But Hakuho now tips the scales at 156kg, according to the official sumo association website.

He became not only big, but impressively strong as well. His 37 tournament championships are an all-time record, along with 1,019 career wins up to the January Tokyo tournament. Hakuho, who holds the highest sumo title of yokozuna, attributes this spectacular record and his power to this special hot pot and training. He also mentioned a few times at the news conference that "it is a healthy food," noting that his body contains only 24% fat. "I am not just a plain old chubby guy," he said.

The restaurant is called Ho, taking one Chinese character from his ring name, meaning a big mythological bird. This is only Ho's second location globally, along with the one in downtown Tokyo's busy Ginza area.

The Japanese government saw this golden opportunity for promotion. Kuninori Matsuda, ambassador and consul-general in Hong Kong, took the podium to emphasize the "intimate cultural, economic and educational exchanges" between the two regions. Matsuda noted that Hong Kong has been the largest buyer of Japanese agricultural and food products for the past 12 years, and he said about 1.84 million of the territory's 7.3 million people visited Japan last year.

The ambassador urged Hong Kongers to "eat at Japanese restaurants every day and spend a lot of money." The territory has 1,300 such eateries, according to his count. Matsuda also suggested that residents visit Japan and "see the real sumo tournaments." The nation's six 15-day sumo tournaments yearly are rapidly becoming an attraction for foreign tourists.

Selling soft products such as food and animation as well as inviting visitors are becoming key aspects of Japan's economic growth strategy. Though Japan's dealings with Beijing are passable, maintaining amicable and practical relations with Hong Kong is always essential for Tokyo. The appearance of a sumo grand champion and a new hot pot dish restaurant offered a political chance not to be missed.

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Art & Entertainment

Miss World Mongolia 2016 auditions for Disney's Mulan

February 8 (news.mn) Mongolian beauty A.Bayartsetseg, has been interviewed at the News Agency. She returned to Mongolia on 3rd of February after having successfully participated in Miss World 2016, where she received the People's Choice Award and became one of the Top 11 contestants of the event.

Walt Disney Pictures have reportedly requested, A.Bayartsetseg to audition for the main role of Mulan, a motion picture to be filmed this year. After the Miss World beauty competition, she accepted the invitation and has auditioned for the role.

Disney is scheduled to release a live-action retelling of "Mulan" on Nov. 2nd 2018, and is currently launching a "global casting search for a "Chinese actress" to play the title character, who was voiced in 1998 by "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." star Ming-Na Wen.

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'Alive' solo paint exhibition on display

February 8 (MONTSAME) On February 6, realist painter Kh.Bayar opened his solo exhibition so called 'Wind with a smell of Mongolia' at the Best Art Gallery of the Mongolian Artists Union.

Over 30 artworks are being displayed at the exhibition and artist Bayar called his first solo exhibition 'hyperrealist'. Hyperrealism is distinctive as it brought realist art into new level with more alive images. The exhibition is the beginning of the new painting genre 'Alive art'.

Realist artists prefer to depict actual physical existence while artist Bayar's works have abstraction in their colors. His work named 'Painter' is an example of abstraction. He painted his portrait in realist style, meanwhile it is attractive that he draws crown changing it into pigeon in the portrait. It shows creative thinking of the artist.

The exhibition will run for one week.

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S.Munkhbaatar's painting selected as Int'l Watercolor Biennale's Top 10

Ulaanbaatar, February 8 (MONTSAME) The second "International Watercolor Biennale 2017" exhibition will be held at the National Historical Museum, Tirana, Albania from March 12 to April 12. Mongolian artist S.Munkhbaatar's art was selected as the Top Ten works of the exhibition.

Heralding the exhibition, the International Watercolor Society of Albania announced an arts competition to display select artworks during the exhibition. 

Mongolian artist S.Munkhbaatar's "Amt" (or Taste) portrait was selected as the Top ten portraits. The best three artists of all categories will be awarded a trophy and the top ten artists will be presented with medals and certificates during the Opening Ceremony.

On that note, artist S.Munkhbaatar also won in an international watercolor competition in Iran in 2016.

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Actor B.Zoljargal Delves into Play 'Tsartsaa Namjil', a Legendary Children's Tale

February 8 (UB Post) 'ROLES REJECT THE ACTOR, ACTORS DON'T REJECT ROLES'

The UB Post interviewed actor B.Zoljargal, who's playing the lead role of State Academic Theater of Drama (SATOD)'s latest children's play "Tsartsaa Namjil".

The play, based on a popular Mongolian folktale with the same name, was launched on Sunday, February 5. The the play was originally planned to be staged on February 5 and 18, but actor B.Zoljargal says that there might be additional performances in between.

Director B.Khishigzaya, who has been working on the play's script for nearly a year, shared that she hopes to develop children's play, educate children through the arts, and promote Mongolian stories and folktales through the modern version of "Tsartsaa Namjil", which tells the story of failed monk called Tsartsaa Namjil who accidentally becomes a revered spiritual figure.

The first show of "Tsartsaa Namjil" is tomorrow (February 5). Are you ready?

There's only one day left until the opening. I'm very nervous but excited. "Tsartsaa Namjil" is finally ready and I would like to encourage everyone to watch it. In particular, I hope parents will invest in their children's education and have their children watch this play.

Overall, I'm ready, but I have to say that I had a very short time to prepare for it. We rehearsed for about 20 days. Since it's a production, we had a relatively small team of 100 members, 20 of whom were actors. I think that the preparation work was done very well.

All plays are reviewed in advance by our directors and management staff, as well as some foreign specialists. "Tsartsaa Namjil" was evaluated quite highly by them and they approved its public staging.

What was your first impression when you got this role?

I had no clue about it until the first day of work this year. On January 2, I was told that actors would be assigned to roles for a new play. Moreover, it was a children's play. Then, I was told that I got the main role, Tsartsaa Namjil. I was very grateful. The story is a Mongolian folktale so I was familiar with it. With this as the first show, I think 2017 will be a very good and prosperous year full of happiness and energy for both the theater and me.

Did you have to audition for the role of Tsartsaa Namjil?

There wasn't an audition. This role was assigned to me directly. When I got the role, I wanted to defend my character's decisions and behavior. There were some challenges while working with this role. For instance, I had to study how I should behave as a child because I found this most difficult. I tried shaving my head and am continuing to study things for improving my portrayal of the character. I also thought a lot about how I should speak and what tone to use.

"Tsartsaa Namjil" is a children's play. What did you focus on while working on this character?

I wanted to keep make my Tsartsaa Namjil more cheeky, crafty and cheerful while preserving his traditional image.

Most people think that children's plays are easy. I actually find children's plays much harder. Children cry and shout out loud during plays. I need to think about how I act. Should I exaggerate my movements, or mimic to draw their attention and make them pay attention so that they understand the story better? Like so, it can be much harder and I think it requires much more skills from actors.

Is your personality similar to Tsartsaa Namjil's?

In reality, I'm more modest but I do become active and outgoing when I'm with my friends. I didn't find it too hard to play Tsartsaa Namjil because I've performed some of the scenes in this play when I was a student.

I heard that the play has been mixed with other folk stories. Can you tell us about this?

This time, "Tsartsaa Namjil" includes three other stories, which are: "Temee Buga Khoyor", "Muur ba Khulgana", and "Kheree Togos Khoyor".

This play is very clear and so is the crux of the story. If people truly work hard, they can succeed in the future. Tsartsaa Namjil, who couldn't learn anything before, had to learn things because he has no other choice. When someone is in trouble or a dire situation, they will remember what their teacher told them and learn to do things. For example, people need to learn to cut a bread and sweep the floor to live more comfortably. They learn this because they have to. Through this play, I hope children learn that they need to work hard and be sincere to succeed in life. The most important thing to learn from this play is studying.

What was it like working with director B.Khishigzaya?

I graduated from the Mongolian State University of Arts and Culture in 2011 under the guidance of State Honored People's Teacher B.Munkhdorj. It was very easy to work with Cultural Leading Worker and director B.Khishigzaya because I've known her since I was a student. She used to be our assistant homeroom teacher. I'd like to use this opportunity to thank her for entrusting me with this role and responsibility. I will continue to work hard.

B.Khishigzaya said that the play has been modified and that they tried to bring a better performance for children. Was the choreography difficult?

Cultural Leading Worker S.Gan-Ochir created the choreography for the play. I'd like to thank him for his splendid work. I didn't find it very difficult.

When did you join the SATOD? What other plays have you performed?

I was accepted by the SATOD in 2014. So far, I've played in "Oulen Ekh" (a part of "Mongolian Great Queens Tales" dance play), "Cinderella", "Anu Khatan", "Romeo and Juliet" and others.

The first play I did after joining the SATOD was "Uuchlaarai, Ta Dugaar Anduurch" (Sorry, You Got the Wrong Number). I worked on the role of a killer. I also got the opportunity to work as an assistant director at the theater.

How do you "work" on a role?

First, roles are distributed. Then you have to read the script and reenact scenes. As you act it out, you have to think about how you say it, where to put emphasis. There's a famous saying that you have to identify things not written in the script and demonstrate it through actions. I try to always keep this in mind.

Can you tell us more about your experience working as an assistant director?

Being an assistant director is extremely hard. You're the first to come to the theater and the last to leave. I realized that assistant directors do the hardest job.

Have you played in a children's play before?

After graduating in 2011, I worked at Gatsuurkhan Children's Theater, founded by my teacher Munkhdorj, for a year and a half. During that period, I performed in children's plays "Muruudliin Uzeg" and "Altan Tulkhuuriin Erelt".

Why did you decide to become an actor?

I never dreamed of becoming an actor when I was a kid, but I did think that it would be interesting to try acting. I actually wanted to become a wrestler, but fate led me to acting.

I became acquainted with this profession by coincidence. One day, I was walking past the Mongolian State University of Arts and Culture and noticed that the atmosphere around the school was very nice and warm. I really liked how young people behaved with one another. So I decided to enroll in the school and experience how it felt to be surrounded by these kinds of people and study in this school.

The more I studied, the more I fell in love with this profession. During my first year, I felt like a People's Artist (a state title). During the second year, I felt like a State Merited Worker. During my third year, I felt like a Cultural Leading Worker, and when I finally became a senior, I became a student.

It was so hard when I came closer to graduation. I wondered what I would do in the future. Every student studying acting dreams of entering the SATOD. SATOD has a very high criteria. Every year, it holds one to two auditions and accept less than four people at a time. I was very happy when I was accepted in 2014. I'm very happy and grateful to be working with great actors of all age groups here, as well as everyone who works backstage. So much effort is poured behind the stage and people should recognize that.

What kind of an actor do you want to become? What is your biggest goal right now?

I want to be an actor who's adored by the people – both children and adults. My near-future goal is to learn a new language like English or Russian. Everyone wants to participate in productions overseas. Right now, I'm still learning.

What are you doing to improve your language and acting skills?

Acting is a very busy job. You work while resting and rest while working. I'm searching for language courses that can help me learn a new language quickly between my busy schedules.

As for acting skills, I try to watch films and read books as much as possible. Books are essential to actors in my opinion.

Is there a particular role you'd like to try?

No, I'll accept any role offered to me. The main thing is that roles reject the actor, not the other way around.

What will you do once "Tsartsaa Namjil" play is over?

Starting Monday, I will be rehearsing for "Notre-Dame de Paris" musical as it is February, the month of love. I will rehearse in the morning and perform for the audience at night or vice-versa from now on.

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This 13-Year-Old Is an Actual EAGLE HUNTER

She's proving that girls can do anything boys can do.

February 8 (Teen Vogue) Imagine being the only girl on a team of boys – for the first time in not just decades, but hundreds of years. For one teenage girl living in Mongolia, that was exactly her experience when she became the first female eagle hunter in 12 generations of her family.

Aisholpan, a 13-year-old Mongolian girl, is the focus of the new documentary The Eagle Huntress, which is currently available on digital as well as DVD/Blu-Ray. The film, which is directed by Otto Bell and narrated by Daisy Ridley of The Force Awakens, follows Aisholpan as she trains to become an eagle hunter, just like her father, and every other man in her family.

As an eagle hunter, Aisholpan uses eagles to catch prey like rabbits and foxes. With the help of her father, Nurgaiv, she was able to catch her very own eaglet, and practiced consistently, all while going to school.

Aisholpan tells Teen Vogue that it was her father who first inspired her to be an eagle hunter. "My father is a hero to me," she says. "I really wanted to be like him. I wanted to keep my ancestors' tradition too."

Nurgaiv encouraged his daughter to follow her dreams, and that sense of acceptance from him meant the world to Aisholpan. She looks back on the moment when she caught her first eaglet as the moment when she realized that her father truly believed in her. "When I succeeded in that mission, I felt so proud of myself," she remembers. "I proved to my father that I can be an eagle huntress. I knew my father was happy too, because I saw the tears of happiness in his eyes."

However, it certainly wasn't easy for her to join a male-dominated field. She faced a lot of pushback from other men in her community, who didn't think it was possible for a woman — let alone a 13-year-old — to become an eagle hunter, "I did not feel bad about it," Aisholpan says. "Instead, I wanted to prove myself so they can understand girls can do what boys do."

And prove herself she did. She eventually entered – and won – the annual Golden Eagle Festival, an annual competition that showcases the best eagle hunters in the country. For Aisholpan, this was her way of showing the other men in her community that they were wrong about her, as well as showing herself that she was capable of being the best. "I was so happy," she says of that moment.

Today, Aisholpan is busy studying at a boarding school. "When I am back home on holiday, I love to work with my eagle," she says. Although she misses her eagle while at school, she is able to connect with him when she goes back home, and their bond continues to remain strong. "Once you spend more time with your eagle, you start to understand what they are feeling and thinking. I believe humans and animals can understand each other." Aisholpan aims to remind others that girls can do anything boys can – and that there no limits to what women can achieve. After all, the lessons she learned while training for the Golden Eagle Festival are things we can all take to heart: "Bravery and patience. Respect for your parents, and love for animals.

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Travel

"Steppe Horses" Winter Festival 2017, 17-19 February, Tuv Aimag

February 8 (gogo.mn) Mongolia is known for being a land of horses and the finest horsemen on earth. The country has more than 3 million domestic horses across the vast steppes, and several hundred Takhi, wild horses in wilderness. The Mongols take pride in their amazing horse culture that they have been honing for milleniums, and even there's this saying "a Mongol learns to ride a horse before he starts walking" among the nomads. There are countless number of legends (including the two white horses of Chinggis Khan), stories, songs and poems about the remarkable Mongolian horses (you perhaps already heard about Mongolian horses being one of the main reasons of the successful Mongol raids in Eurasia back in the 13th century, but did you know that Mongolian horses took part in WWII? They traveled as far as Berlin with the Soviet soldiers!) too.

The wonderful "Steppe Horses Winter Festival" is to be held for its' third time in a couple of weeks, just before the Mongolian Lunar New Year. This year, the festival is taking place in Altanbulag soum of Tuv province, which locates very close to Ulaanbaatar, and thus, provides a brilliant opportunity to witness the event. You may have seen great photos of Mongolian horsemen in snow from the previous festivals, and this beautiful stallion picture taken during the festival (courtesy of Mongolian photographer Batzaya Ch) was named among the best animal photos of 2016. You will see everything by your own eyes!

Dates of 2017 Steppe Horses Winter festival: 17-19 February.

Location: Altanbulag soum, Tuv Province.

Brief program of the festival.

Prepared exclusively for GoGo Travel by Zola (Co-founder of Premium Travel Mongolia LLC. www.mongoliatravelmarket.com)

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Winter horse racing attracts tourists

February 8 (news.mn) Entitled 'Thousands of Horses of the Steppe', is an annual winter festival which takes place in Altanbulag soum, 50km from Ulaanbaatar on 18-19th of February. The winter horse festival has been organised by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in cooperation with the Tuv provincial administration since 2015.

During the festival, horse racing, one of the so-called traditional 'three manly games', will take place over a short distance of 200-300 meters. Many other performances such as parade of horses of the same colour, lassoing and breaking in untamed backs are guaranteed to attract tourists.

Tourists from New Zealand, the UK and Asian countries have made plans to participate in the festival.

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Mongolia Eagle Festival: Steppes, Deserts & Nomads

(Exodus Travels) --

Your chance to

  • Witness a traditional Mongolian eagle festival
  • The spectacularly varied Mongolian landscape - vast rolling steppe, mountains and deserts
  • Sleep in traditional style ger camps (Mongolian felt tents)
  • Karakorum, the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire

At a glance

  • Travel by 4WD, bus and internal flights
  • Normally 4 to 16, plus local leader, Min age 16 yrs
  • 4 nights hotels, all en suite and 12 nights ger camp with shared facilities
  • All meals included

What's included

  • All breakfasts, lunch and dinners
  • All accommodation (see below)
  • All transport and listed activities
  • All internal flights
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Arrival & departure transfers

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (from £560)
  • Airport ransfers for Land Only passengers
  • Visas

Rolling steppe make way to stark desert; small nomadic ger camps pepper this vast land where camels and goats are herded on horseback, fermented mare's milk is the tipple of choice, sand dunes are known to 'sing' and the first intact dinosaur eggs were found. Genghis Khan went forth from here on horseback to conquer the biggest land empire in history and, to this day, Buddhist and Animist traditions mix. We travel through steppe, mountains and the Gobi desert exploring the nature and culture of this fascinating, yet little known country before making our way to the far western reaches to visit the eagle festival, celebrating the fascinating past time of hunting with eagles and the strong connection the Mongolian people have with their animals and land.

Itinerary (Flight inclusive)

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Zennergi: White Birch Tree Sap Healing Retreat in Mongolia

One of the greatest ways to revitalise your mind and body is through the life changing white birth sap healing retreat in Mongolia. Thousands of kilometers of white birch tree forests provide an incredible scenery filled with this unique living drink. During this 13 day inner journey Altai Shaman Bulgan will guide you on this deep detox with her teachings, shamanic rituals and knowledge of this high energy source drink.

Birch Tree Sap from Mongolia 

Birch sap is the sap directly tapped from white birch tree. Traditionally it has been viewed as a part of nature's renewable energy cycle, harvested once a year at the break of spring when birch trees awaken after winter dormancy and their sap begins to flow from tree root to tree tip budding leaves. The birch sap is a slightly sweet, thin syrupy-watery liquid.  This sap is one of the best living energy source you can drink.

It is unique living water elixir which has magical restorative and detoxifying properties, a source of eternal youth and be used  as medicinally, externally or internally for centuries in Northern countries as Siberia – Mongolia, North Asia, North Europe and North America.

Healing benefits of drinking white birch sap:

The Birch sap is a very powerful blood-purifying agent. Nowadays, birch sap is used across the globe and is considered to be a highly-effective detoxifying agent that targets two key organs and two major cleansing and purification systems at the same time.

Powerful diuretic properties: The liver (choleresis): by capturing and neutralizing toxic waste products. The kidneys (diuresis): by eliminating and filtering waste through the urinary tract.

Significant anti-ageing, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-thrombotic (anti-clotformation) effects, headaches, bronchitis, cough, radiculitis and arthritis and also at rheumatism, high cholesterol, heart and kidney edema, and cystitis.

      Stimulate the metabolism and aid in better digestion, destroys uric stones, effective at treatment of stomach and liver ulcer.

      Eliminating cellulite from the body and treats problems like obesity over time.

      Skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis, furunculous and other skin irritations.

      It contains substances possessing antimicrobial activity (phytoncide) and has been used as a cosmetic face-wash – cleaning, refreshing and renewing the skin.

Also your skin and hair will experience an amazing difference with this great drink.

But what, exactly, is in this unique living drink and why does it have such an impressive reputation?

According to the website of Byarozavik, one of the biggest American birch water brands, the basic nutritional profile of birch sap is very similar to its coconut cousin — but with a couple of impressive nutritional extras.

The other super-ingredient that birch water boasts and coconut water does not is xylitol — a sweetener with 40 per cent fewer calories than sugar.

Xylitol is a healthy sugar alternative and perfect for diabetics. Benefits include dramatic tooth decay reduction if used with our gum, mints, or candy.

See about xylitol – http://xylitol.org/miscellaneous/xylitol-make-good-sweetener

Unlike coconut water, birch sap contains compounds called saponins, which research are said to have powerful cholesterol-reducing properties.

Clinical studies have suggested that these health-promoting components, saponins, affect the immune system in ways that help to protect the human body against cancers, and also lower cholesterol levels.Saponins decrease blood lipids, lower cancer risks, and lower blood glucose response. A high saponins diet can be used in the inhibition of dental caries and platelet aggregation, in the treatment of hypercalciuria in humans, and as an antidote against acute lead poisoning.

Birch sap contains minerals that most important for human body such as 6 electrolytes: calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and sodium, vital vitamins, natural sugars, natural carbohydrates, iron, copper, sodium, amino acid, bioactive enzymes, very rich in vitamin C and B-vitamins like thiamine. It helps to relieve stiff muscles and joints, strengthening the bones and boosting overall immunity. (Electrolytes help to control fluid levels in the body, maintain normal pH levels, and ensure the correct electric potential between nerve cells that enables the transmission of nerve signals.)

Birch tree contains betulinic acid that gives it its anti-inflammatory properties, which are helpful in treating conditions like arthritis, high cholesterol, heart and kidney edema, and cystitis.

Also, birch tree contains strong astringent properties that make it an effective natural treatment for skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis, furunculous and other skin irritations.

Birch bud and leaves are commonly juiced and this juice is used for treating inflammations and infections of the urinary tract, edema, and renal calculosis.

The buds of the birch tree are a rich source of vitamin C, tannin, and flavonoids.

We will tap the birch sap ourselves for daily use and drink 1.5 l per day and we will do half fasting. The standard food that will be offering is vegetarian food, but for those who would like to have gluten free or meat, we can arrange that.

Mongolian Shaman Bulgan

Bulgan comes from an ancient and direct shamanic family tradition passed on from generation to generation. She is internationally known as a wisdom keeper. Sourced by the Mongolian tradition she brings back in balance the female energy and inspires thousands of women on her travels through Europe during the months she leaves Mongolia to spread her teachings and rituals. Apart from her Mongolian family she is also part of the world wide recognised "World Master Teachers" group. This label underlines and protects the exceptional knowledge, wisdom and transformational power that resides in the shamanic familylines certain Shamans belong to.

You need to bring: 0,5l bottle for the sap, warm sleeping bag, raincoat, warm hiking shoes, extra warm shoes, warm ski wear, warm clothes, sunglasses and a small backpack for water. Day temperature will be around 7◦C – 10◦C. The hikes will take max 3 hours a day.

Extra trips around Ulaanbaatar are possible.

Mongolia is the land of the blue sky. It is one of the best places to do the birch sap treatment, because of the fresh air, amazing untouched nature. That means that the sap of the birch tree is pure without all the pollution like countries with a lot of industry.

Travel Schedule 2017: (Dates will be available soon)

Day 1: Arrival in Ulaanbaatar

Day 2: drive to Birch Sap Healing Camp with jeep and bus (about 2 hours).

Day 2 – 12: 10 days in the Birch Sap Healing Camp in a Mongolian traditional 'Ger' (Yurt).

Day 12: Return to Ulaanbaatar

Day 13: Back to EU

Price:

Included:

Excluded:

€1390

Transportation during the trip, 2days hotel, food and camp, Invitation for  visa to Mongolia,

Flights, visa to Mongolia (€ 50 – € 80).

Flights are not included.

For more information: info@zennergi.be

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14 Chinggis Avenue, Sukhbaatar District 1

Ulaanbaatar 14251, Mongolia
Email: info@covermongolia.com

Office: +976 7711 6779

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