Animals Kyrgyzstan

Dzheyran Antelope


Marco Polo Sheep
Red Wolf
Snow Leopard

Badger. Lives in many different habitats. Badgers settle in ravines, amongst undergrowth and on riverbanks. They are nocturnal animals who eat insects, berries and fruit.

Bear. Tien-Shan Brown Bear. This bear differs from the Siberian bear thanks to its smaller size and good natured (you could almost say cowardly), disposition. Its claws are white, whilst the Siberian bear has black claws. The brown bear typically inhabits high mountain areas. In summer it comes down to the forest line, where there is more food. Before the first deep snows fall, the bear goes into hibernation. It builds a den in the higher reaches of alpine forests, normally amongst cliffs. It begins to hibernate in October or November, waking up in February or March. In mid winter, female bears give birth to one or two (occasionally three or four) very small cubs, weighing 500 g. In the den the bear cubs drink their mother's milk, flowing from her autumn fat stores. Bears are omnivores. Their basic foods include fruit, berries, bulbs and the green parts of plants. They eat a lot of insects and grubs. In marmot colonies they sometimes dig to extract the unfortunate beasts. In order never to lose the Tien-Shan bear, it is listed in the Red Book (a register of protected species).

Boar. Inhabits inaccessible areas. Predominantly nocturnal. Towards autumn the boar's hide thickens significantly, especially on its sides and back, forming an idiosyncratic kind of armour. The wild boar is omnivorous; it eats apples, nuts, roots, berries, acorns, snails, maggots, mice, eggs and fledgling birds. Boars do not just need water for drinking; a passion for bathing also compels them to stay close to ponds and streams. Secluded springs and marshy areas are the perfect environment for boars to create their own private 'swimming pools'. Sometimes wild boars bathe at cold times of year. About a week before giving birth the sow separates herself from the herd and builds a birthing den. At the end of March she gives birth to between three and eleven piglets. Wild boars tend to be rather belligerent, even from childhood.

Dzheyran Antelope. The only Kyrgyz gazelle. This is a slight animal with a long body, 100-110 cm in all, weighing up to 30 kg. The gazelle's back is grey-yellow with a white belly, and the male has small horns. The main reason that their numbers are decreasing is poaching.

Fox. Present throughout Kyrgyzstan. Its habitats include steppe and mountainous areas and it usually makes its den in gullies. Elegant fox paws are not ideally adapted to digging burrows, so the fox prefers to take over those of other animals, especially those of badgers and gophers. Foxes dig their own burrows only rarely and when they do, only very simple ones. In difference to the badger, the fox is careless about cleanliness and their dens look extremely unpleasant often emitting a terrible odour. In these conditions, 4-12 cubs are born in April. In winter the fox's coat becomes thick and warm.

Gopher. In gopher territory it is possible to count hundreds of animals in a hectare. Body length is 20-25 cm. Gophers eat various different kinds of plants and settle in large colonies. The female gives birth once a year; young are born blind and naked.

Ibex. A mountain goat - the pride and beauty of mountainous Kyrgyzstan. The ibex's coat is darker in winter than in summer. Bucks are endowed with long horns, which grow throughout their lives - reaching up to one metre in length over seven years. The doe's horns never grow longer than 30 or 40 cm. A single kid, or very occasionally twins, is born in May. These days, herds of ibex are so rare that even in winter there is sufficient pasture for them all. However, the ibex is a shy animal and there are too few pastures where it can graze peacefully and undisturbed. If an ibex spends all its time on away from pasture on rocky slopes, then it will not lay down fat reserves. Without fat it will not have a successful winter and without a successful winter the weakened animal falls ill and is unable to breed. The breeding cycle falters and the number of ibex shrinks even further.

Lynx. This big cat weighs up to 30 kg. As with all lynxes, its ears sport characteristic brushes. This is a skillful predator, which easily catches roe deer, goats, hares and various rodents and birds. Very rare and listed in the “Red Book”.

Maral. The Siberian deer. A noble deer, the Tien-Shan maral is listed in the 'Red Book' (a register of protected species), but this sadly has not led to an improvement in their situation. Their numbers scarcely reach the hundreds. The buck's antlers furnish him with weapons for battle and beautify him for the mating season. His kingly horns are not just a trophy that hunters yearn for, but are also cut off and dried by poachers in order to make a medicine called pantokrat. The doe does not have horns. Maral is the Kyrgyz name for deer; in Kyrgyz the buck is called bugu. In June, one baby is born.

Marco Polo Sheep. The Tien-Shan mountain sheep. The male has enormous curly horns and the female somewhat smaller ones. This is a lean, sinewy, well-built sheep, with comparatively long legs, which make it very motile. A large animal gives up to 50-70 kg of pure meat. The Marco Polo sheep prefers flat or gently sloping mountain areas. Today, there are scarcely 6000-7000 in the whole republic.

Marmot. Eats plants, including stalks, roots and bulbs. The marmot is a daytime animal. It goes into hibernation at the beginning of September and stays there for seven months. In March or April the marmot leaves its burrow and comes to the surface. It moults once a year, in summer.

Muskrat. Settles on the banks of lakes and reservoirs. Muskrats dig underground burrows, making the entrance just lower than the water level. For winter, muskrats create dens from plant material held together with mud. They eat water and shoreline plants. Length 55-60 cm, around half of which is accounted for by the tail.

Red Wolf. Red wolf is a medium-sized dog and a dog-type predator. The body length is around one meter and a tail is half shorter. Its fur is long and thick, especially in winter. Red wolf has ocher-red, gray and rusty fur tones. Compared to a fox, red wolf has higher legs. Compared to a wolf, red wolf is smaller in size and has less colour. When compared to a dog, it has fluffy lowered tail. Mating takes place in January and February. Puppies tend to be born in April. Red wolf hunts more often during the day, often forming a pack. It may attack livestock, but because of the extreme paucity it does not cause any noticeable harm.

Roe. This is a small, variegated, forest deer. The doe has no horns and is a little smaller than the buck, but in other respects very little differentiates the two. Roe quickly become accustomed to the presence of humans and sometimes graze right in front of peoples' eyes. In winter on the edge of woods, it is possible to find pits created by deer digging through the snow to get at plants underneath. At the end of May, the doe gives birth to two, occasionally three, young. Their chestnut colored fur is decorated with rows of white spots. Adults lose their antlers at the end of November or beginning of December, but quickly begin to grow new ones.

Saiga. In general appearance the saiga is reminiscent of the sheep, a characteristic emphasized by her habit of holding the head horizontally. When running, the saiga holds her head even lower and begins to resemble a goat. The saiga's reddish tones provide camouflage in its desert and its semidesert habitats. In winter the saiga grows a new coat of long, white, wavy hair, almost three times longer and thicker than its summer coat. This insulation is so effective that the saiga is not afraid of snow and digs down to the earth below in search of food.

Snow Leopard. Found along the peaks of the Tien-Shan, very rare. Its basic food is large hoofed animals, including goats and deer, but it also eats hares, marmots, rodents and birds - everything that it can catch. The snow leopard is one of the most beautiful of our native animals and hunting them is strictly forbidden throughout Kyrgyzstan.

Squirrel. It is imported from Kazakhstan in 1951-1952. It reproduces twice a year between March-May, and June-August, bringing a 3-5 blind helpless cubs. A month later, they open their eyes, and in 1.5-2 months squirrels become independent. The squirrel mainly eats seeds and buds of pine tree, mushrooms and berries. On some occasions it consumes green plants, insects, snails, rodents, eggs and bird chicks. It is active during daylight hours. The squirrel makes reserves for the winter by hiding the pine cones under the forest earth layer. On cold days in winter, the squirrel becomes almost inactive and hides in its nest.

In 1930, 750 roe were bought for the first time from Lake Sevan in Armenia and released into Lake Issyk-Kul from Dzhergalan Bay. The trout did not just adapt to their unfamiliar surroundings, but changed significantly in this new habitat. Examples have been caught measuring 1m in length and weighing up to 17 kg (in Sevan the largest are 50-60 cm in length and 4 kg in weight).

Wolf. A wolf lives in the mountain area. It weighs 40-50 kg and is up to 1.5m in length and 80cm in height. It prefers open spaces, woods and slopes. Mating period is in February and March. Wolves have strong family bonds and the couples are formed for life. In April-May 4-8 cubs are born. Wolves choose and create their den under a rubble of stones or rocks, caves, they expand badger holes, sometimes they dig under the roots of trees around cliffs. Each family has its own territory. Dens are usually located a few dozen kilometers from each other. The only serious competitor to a wolf is a shepherd dog, which is almost never fed, thus it is forced to obtain extra food for itself by hunting and killing a lot of birds, small little animals, especially young marmots and hares. It also eats frogs, lizards, shrews, rabbits, rodents, small carnivores, including foxes and ungulates. During summer, it may consume vegetable food: fruit, juicy fruits and herbs in small quantities. It consumes melons and watermelons at the melon field to quench its thirst. Big damage is brought to country animals, killing thousands of sheep, hundreds of horses and yaks, also to a lot of dogs. There are so-called wolf-dogs, which are a crossbreed of a wolf with a dog that are of a particular concern as they are fierce and have no fear of people.

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