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  Home  »  Kyrgyzstan  »  Nature  »   Fauna

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Yaks are large animals, they can reach two metres in height, a relative of cattle.

As long ago as 3000 years ago, they were first tamed by man. Domestic yaks tend to be smaller and quieter than wild ones. They dont need special care and they are able to survive on scanty mountain vegetation. As well as being husbanded for their hair, milk and meat, they are used as pack animals.

The wild yak weighs can grow up to 1000 kg but domesticated ones are usually only half that weight. They can grow to 1.8 meters tall, have long, coarse, black hair and a hairy tail (which was used by the Ancient Chinese as a symbol of authority) and grow horns which can reach half a meter in length.

Their natural habitat is in treeless uplands, including plains, hills, and mountains, from as low as 3200 m up to the limit of vegetation at about 5400 m.They stay in high areas with permanent snow during the warmer months of August and September, and spend the rest of the year at lower elevations.

The wild yak grazes on grasses, herbs and lichens. They can graze on the alpine grasslands in the summer and during winter on the shrubs in deep snow quenching its thirst with snow and ice. They loose weight during the winter but recover and gain weight rapidly with the coming of spring grass.

Ordinarily yaks gather in groups of 10 - 30 or more, but they may occasionally be observed in large groups of 100 - 200. Herds in the wild are not stable units: they readily split, or two or more may join together.

Yaks are sturdy and well adapted to coping with the extreme climatic conditions. Their thick hair forms the charateristic skirts, under which a mother will hide her calves from cold weather. During the winter season they even bathe in ponds which havent frozen over.

In domestic yaks, females first calve at about 3-4 years old. Full size is reached at about 6-8 years old. Most births occur sometime between April and June. Domestic yaks give birth to single calves in alternate years, but in areas of poor grazing, a few may give birth only once every three years. The young become independent after about 1 year. They can live to about 25 years of age.

The numbers of yaks in Kyrgyzstan reached a peak of about 67000 in the late 1970s, but have fallen to just 16500 in 2001.

Today yak meat is highly sought after as a delicacy.

Fish provide an important source of iodine otherwise lacking in the Kyrgyz diet and is a popular form of food.Today, there are some 54 species found in Kyrgyzstan 38 of them indigenous and 16 introduced. The greatest diversity is found in Issyk Kul and the larger rivers depending on the waterflow ...

Joost van der Ven, in his book Looking at Birds in the Kyrgyz Republic devotes a special chapter to cranes and the migratory routes that bring three different species to Kyrgyzstan. These long legged, long necked, migratory birds with powerful wings, live either in marshlands on the steppes where ...

There are several different types of birds of prey (eagles, vultures, hawks, Bustards and so forth) found in the Kyrgyz Republic the largest is the Golden Eagle - Berkut.The wings of a young Golden Eagle tend to be light coloured with a dark line along the edge an older eagle will have a white tail ...

The wolf has a bad reputation throughout the world. Perhaps part of this in modern times is due to the prevelance of Werewolf stories and films. There are a number of species of wolves found throughout the Republic, and their reputation is no better here than elsewhere especially as they seen as a ...

Marco Polo sheep
Marco Polo's Sheep (Ovis ammon polii) are a variety of Argali. They are also known as Great Tibetan Sheep, Pamir Argali, and Great Pamir Sheep. They are mainly known for their characteristicly large swirling horns.Some scholars have doubted the accuracy of Marco Polos accounts of his journey to Cathay ...

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard
Tigers and cheetahs once roamed through the forests of Kyrgyzstan but the Snow Leopard is the only example of the Big Cats still to be found in Kyrgyzstan. They are extremely athletic capable of making huge leaps over ravines and can bring down prey almost three times their own size. They ...

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