Biology of Kyrgyzstan

 Biology of Kirgizstan.

Kirgizstan's landscape is rich and diverse and changes with the course of weather conditions and altitudes. Kirgizstan is famous for its botanical diversity. There are 400 species exclusive to this country. There are tulips, orchids and an alpine flower - edelweiss. The rare aigul flower grows in the Alia Range. There is even a legend about this flower.

Once upon a time there was a rich man whose daughter Aigul fell in love with a fearless warrior Kozu Ulan but he was killed and his heart was brought back to the village. Aigul couldn't bear her grief. So she climbed to the top of a hill and threw herself onto a rock, now known as Aigultash. Where her blood split some beautiful flowers - Aigul - soon appeared. They look like ordinary lilies or tulips but inside there are big drops of dew, which locals say are Aigul's tears. A rock opposite is called Ulan Kozu.

Kirgizstan has a very rich nature. One of the famous trees in Kirgizstan is Juniper (Archa). It grows in the rock mountains in the conditions of high dryness. There are 5 species of Archa, which are adapted to different climate conditions and different altitudes. Archa is a tree which accompanies a Kirgiz during all his life. A cradle is made up of this tree, when a yurt is put, an honorable women comes first and holds a branch of a burning Archa, which is believed to keep off the family from the evil spirits. And in the end the coffin is also made from Archa wood. Archa has its own way to survive in such dry conditions. Its trunk turns or curls during growing, so that the sun doesn't burn the tree only on one side. Also it drops its needles creating a kind of pillow of these needles and other mess. When it rains, this pillow keeps the humidity, saturating the roots of the tree. Archa's wood has a little pinkish color and smells greatly. This tree cleans the air very quickly. One ha of Archa tree can clear the air of the whole city by one night.

Another celebrated tree of Kirgizstan is the Queen of Tian-Shan. It also grows in the high mountains at the altitude of 1000-3000 m. a. s. l. It can grow up to 50 m. long. It has a unique way of propagation. Another tree grows from the root of another, making a kind of a chain of similar trees. Each tree has a main root, which grows deep down to the ground, and grows till it faces some stone, then clutches at it in order the tree stands any storms and strong winds.


The animal life is much more varied and diverse. Over the territory of Kirgizstan one can find animals over any landscape: forests, steppes, valleys, deserts and mountains.

We live on a planet of insects. Nowadays there are from 2 to 4 million different species of insects. 625000 species of insects are certainly known by the scientists nowadays. Therefore human is surrounded by insects, but most of them are so small that a person's eye is unable to distinguish them.

Only in Kirgizstan there are about 5000 species and 17 species are described in the Red Book of Kirgizstan. There are:

  • 60 species of dragon-fly
  • 83 species of butterfly
  • 83 species of ants
  • 33 species of bees


The largest butterfly which inhabits in the territory of Kirgizstan is Pavlinoglazka Shrenka (emperor butterfly). It is unique by the way of its life. Being a caterpillar it collects as much nutrients as it needs during the future live as a butterfly. Because becoming a butterfly, its mouth skins over and it doesn't have an opportunity to eat during its life. Its life lasts for about two weeks.

Stocks of 49 species of fish can be founding the waters of Kirgizstan. In the largest lake of Kirgizstan Issyk-Kul one can find a lot of species of fish. For example chebak, carp, osman, barbell, pike-perch, bream, sazan, marinka, trout and many others. Trout didn't appear in the Issyk-Kul Lake naturally. It was brought here. It used to be rather small and herbivorous fish, but after being brought here it didn't find suitable algae to eat and to survive it had to adopt to eat smaller fish, therefore becoming a predator. Now it's rather large fish. It can be up to 80 sm.

There are 25 species of reptiles, including tortoises, lizards and snakes.

There are 335 species of different birds. In different areas of Kirgizstan one can find pelicans, grey geese, woodpecker, seagull, red-wing flamingo, grey herons and cranes. Among rare species of birds there are white stork, black stork, bearded vulture, bustard, demoiselle crane and, of course, eagle. There are several species of an eagle in Kirgizstan. They differ by its shape, coloring and size. They are: Golden eagle, Steppe eagle, White-tail sea eagle, Grave eagle. Eagle is a predator. The Steppe eagle is usually brown - it's the darkest of all the eagles, the Grave eagle has a longer tail and wider wings with brown-colored body and light spots on its shoulders. The Golden eagle, also called Berkut, is light colored with a dark line along the edge; it has golden feathers at the back of its head.

Hunting with the golden eagle is an ancient tradition that dates back to the Mongol conquest of Central Asia around the 12th and 13th centuries, when a fine eagle and good horse cost the same price and both lent prestige to their owner. 
Although the practice is gradually disappearing in this area, hunting with birds (especially with eagles) is still practiced in certain regions of Kyrgyzstan. 
Hunting takes place riding a specially trained horse. To allow a rider to carry an eagle a special device is fitted onto the saddle to support the rider's arm.
Sent out to hunt fawns, foxes, or other small animals, the eagle dives down on them and kills them. But often it is also capable of killing young wolves when they cannot negotiate the deep snow. Sometimes the eagles hunt in pairs, just as they would in the wild. 
A skilled pair of hunters can typically catch 50 or 60 foxes a dozen badgers, a couple of lynx and 4 or 5 wolves in a normal 4 month season, which starts in the late autumn. Eagles rarely fail to catch their prey, which it quickly kills, usually by breaking the neck in its powerful claws.
The capture, training and keeping of eagles is a highly ritualized activity. Training eagles takes a lot of time, (3-4 years), must be done by one person, and requires constant daily attention.
When the eagle is almost an adult, the trainer shows it the hides and furs of the animals it must hunt so that it becomes used to the smell and characteristics of the prey. All of this is done with special commands. Training continues by dragging a fox fur behind a galloping horse.
Not all eagles can be so trained, but those that do show intense loyalty. Although never tethered they always return after killing their prey. 
The season for hunting with eagles is from October to February. The larger eagles malt during the summer months and do not fly. So during the tourist season demonstrations of the art are limited to showing the magnificent birds and flying smaller falcons. Demonstrations can be arranged in Issyk-Kul, in the Naryn region and near to Bishkek.


There are 83 species of mammals in Kyrgyzstan. The famous ones are deer, snow leopard (bars), mountain sheep (Arkhar), mountain goat - ibex, yaks and a unique specimen of a sheep - Marko Polo sheep. Also one can find some smaller animals: badgers, martens, marmots, porcupines, weasels, otters, ermines, wild boars, roe deer, foxes, wolves, bears and others.

Snow leopard or also called Bars is a rare animal in Kirgizstan. It is in the Red Book and enumerates only about 350 animals on the territory of Kirgizstan. A snow leopard has cream or grey colored fur and large brown spots on the neck and paws. It is about 100-130 sm. Long. The tail is 80-100 sm. Long. At the shoulder the height is 60 sm. The makes are heavier than females. (males - 45-50 kg., females - 35 kg.). Bars lives up to 20 years old. It feeds itself with goats and rarely deer, hare, birds. Bars is a solitary animal and it never dares to attack people in large groups. Snow leopards live high in the mountains at the altitude of 3000-4000 m. a. s. l.

The breading period snow leopards is between December to March and there are from 1 to 5 cubs are born. The cubs usually stay with mother for a year. The only worthy enemy of a bars is a wolf.

Snow leopards are hunted for their fur, body parts and are the ingredients in Chinese medicine as a substitute to a tiger bone. It takes from 6 to 11 skins to make a fur coat. But it was forbidden to haunt these animals in 1959, though every year some 50 specimens are caught for zoos anyway.

If in a Kirgiz yurt a skin of snow leopard is hanging on the wall, it is supposed as a family heirloom, which is inherited from father to son.

Snow leopard is a symbol of Bishkek city.


Marko Polo sheep is also known as Great Pamir sheep or Great Tibetan sheep as it inhabits in the high mountains of Pamir Range Mountains at the altitude from 5000 to 7500 m. a. s. l. They are mainly known for their characteristically large swirling horns. They have long white legs and brown body with red spots. Adult males weight 125 kg, females 75 kg with the height of 115 sm. And 100 sm. The characteristic horns can be used as an indication of the age of an individual male. A one year old will have short horns. A two or three year old will have horns that form a quarter of a circle, at four or five years old, the horns will form a semi-circle and between six to eight years old they will form a three-quarters circle.

These sheep don't have a good sense of sight but has a good sense of hearing and smell, that's why that's hard to haunt them.


Yaks. About 3000 years ago Yaks were tamed by man. Yaks are really large animals. They can reach two m. height.  Wild yaks weight up to 1000 kg and are found in treeless uplands: plains, hills, mountains (from 3200 - 5400 m. a. s. l.).  Yaks are not solitary animals, they usually gather in groups of 10 to 30 animals, and sometimes in larger groups of 100 to 200 animals.

Yak has thick hair in a shape of "skirt" under which mothers hide their calves from cold winter. Yaks are well adopted to cope with the extreme weather conditions. During the winter season they even bathe in ponds which haven't frozen over. The birth period is from April to June. Yaks give birth to single calve in several years. Yaks live up to 25 years.


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