Going wild – Wildlife in Central Asia and Mongolia
Through all of your travels in Central Asia and Mongolia, you will always come across wild animals. It might not be obvious but if you look close you will see it. On the lonesome roads you will be often followed by an eagle. They are nearly everywhere to be seen. In the mountain regions, the golden eagles are magnificent and truly beautiful. In Mongolia, where drives can be very long, we even made a sport out of it who could spot more eagles next to the road. On the road you spot anyway the most animals. There are lots of hares and foxes and of course different species of birds around. We spotted some nice owls as well.
Some areas of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Mongolia are home to the snow leopard. There are not many left since it is an endangered animal. They are really hard to spot but they can be found. We didn't see them yet but it's definitely on our list. These animals are experts in camouflage and live in the mountains up to 4'500 meters high. There are only about 4000-6000 animals left in the wild in the whole world. Snow leopards have a symbolic meaning for the peoples of Central Asia therefore it is often used as an Emblem e.g. it is the official seal of Almaty, Bishkek and Samarkand.
In the mountains of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and even in Mongolia wolves and bears are often spotted. We were once hiking with a local friend in the Kazakh part of the Altai Mountains and we were deep in the woods in some valley. After a while, our friend told us we have to turn back otherwise we would have faced the bears. We both love to see wild animals. What a feeling it must be when you really see a wil bear or even a wolf in front of you? But somehow we still want to find out
Another rare animal is the Takhi or Prezwalski's horse (named after its "founder" Nicolai Prezwalksi). It is a wild horse who lived in these areas. It was just recently reintroduced to Mongolia and Kazakhstan again after being nearly extinct. In 1947, only around 31 horses survived in captivity. Since 1960 they are breeding again with success. They can be spotted in the Atyn-Emel Nationalpark in Kazakhstan and in Khustain Nuur Nationalpark in Mongolia. We were lucky enough to see one big male there.
And there is still a lot to see and discover. So many other animals are living in the area like lynx, argail sheep, ibex, wild boar, deer, saiga, goitred gazelle, flamingos and varans.
So get camouflaged and bring your binoculars, because it is going to be a wild adventure!