The nature around Shymkent is rich of wildlife and you can find close to the city three National parks with very seldom and endemic animals. We will present you the most famous ones.
Lets start with one famous animal – with the grey wolf. According to a report of National Wildlife in 2007 around 90,000 wolves lives in Kazakhstan. That is the biggest population of wolves world-wide. The mammals have a weight of 37 kg (female) up to 40 kg (male), a length of around 105 till 160 cm and a shoulder height of around 80 till 85 cm. Most of the population of Kazakhstan lives in Altai region – but you can also discover some wolves in the National Reserve Aksu-Zhabagly or the Sairam-Ugam National Park near Shymkent. But don’t be afraid during a hiking tour. The wolf is famous as a bad and dangerous animals in fairy tales like Little Red Riding Hood or The Wolf and the Seven Young Goats. But there normal behavior is to avoid humans. They only hunt in the wild nature small animals like birds, mouses, rats and small deer. Only during hard times without food they attack sheep, ducks or chicken at farms during night.
Berkut – the Asian Golden Eagle
The Himalayan Golden eagle or Berkut is Kazakhstan’s national symbol and everyone can see clearly the Golden eagle hugging the Sun at Kazakhstan’s blue sky on Kazakhstan’s flag. So its sad to tell that the wild Golden eagle is also on the Red List – and the population of eagles is still shrinking. The average weight of Berkuts between 4 kg (male) up to 6 kg (female) and their wingspan of incredible 2.2 meters make them to the largest species of Golden Eagles. In their natural environment the Berkuts hunting marmots, rabbits, mices and ground squirrels. But as a Kazakh hunting pet also even bigger animals like deer, antelope and foxes. You can watch Himalayan Golden eagles in the Sairam-Ugam National park or in the rough mountains of the Karatau Mountains in the Turkestan region of Kazakhstan.
The wildlife of south Kazakhstan also offers many Deers. They love to stay near the fresh green forests and meadows and wild small mountain rivers in the mountains of Sairam-Ugam National Park and the southern part of the Karatau Mountains. The best time to see them in the mountains is in the early morning during dawn or in the evening during sunset.
Butterflys and Silk moths
The small fields and meadows with very much flowers and less industrial agriculture located around Shymkent are a great home for Butterflies. You can find common but also endemic butterflies in South Kazakhstan. The Papilio machaon centralis is one species you can find only in the Western Tian Shan Mountains but you can find also common butterflies like the Black-veined white butterfly in Sairam-Su National Park. We also found even silk moths like the Neoris Huttoni Shadulla in the Karatau Mountains near Shymkent.
The Snow Leopard is the King of the wildlife in south Kazakhstan. These big cats have a length of around 80 till 130 cm and a tail of around 90 cm and a shoulder height of around 60 cm. You read correctly: The strong tail is often more than 1/3 of the total length of a Snow Leopard. They need there tail to cover nose and head during sleeping in cold nights and to jump, run and walk through tricky rocky and often snowy terrain in the mountains 2,500 till 4,500 meters altitude. The weight of the males are around 50 kg and the female leopards have a weight of around 40 kg. If you meet a Snow Leopard in the nature you are a lucky guy. These beautiful animals are on the Red List and only less than 10,000 leopards are alive world-wide. Around 150 Snow Leopards still living in Kazakhstan. The wild cats are mostly captured by camera traps. One Snow Leopard went into one camera trap in Aksu-Zhabagly in Summer 2021 and smiled 🙂.
The Sibirian Ibex with his long horns is also a impressive animal and you can find it in the wild nature around Shymkent. The Ibex males have a shoulder height of around 90 cm and a weight up to 130 kg. The female animals are smaller with a height of around 75 cm and weights up to 56 kg. The horn of the males is growing up to 115 cm – but in some cases the Sibirian Ibex horn is getting impressive 150 cm long! The Sibirian Ibex likes to eat herbes and alpine grass and lives in summer mostly above the tree line. Only in some days they going down to salt licks to get important minerals. During the winter time they crossing the tree line to an lower altitude but preferring still meadows instead of forests. Siberian Ibexes are good climber and love to discover the rocky terrain in the Aksu-Zhabagly National Reserve and the Sairam-Ugam National park.
The Marmots are cute brown small animals and very often you can hear them already from far away when they whistle very loud in the mountain valleys of the Sairam-Ugam National Park. The marmots of the Western Tian Shan Mountains are Menzbier’s marmots and the population of this marmots is around 23,000 in Kazakhstan. The Menzbier’s marmots are the smallest species of marmots and has just a length of up to 50 cm and a weight of up to 5 kg. You have a good chance to watch in the green meadows of altitudes of 2,000–3,600 m above sea level this small animals during May till September because they sleeping during winter time in the underground. The marmots eating plants and like especially young, juicy shoots which growing on the meadows close to snow fields in the Tian Shan Mountains.
This is not the complete list of wildlife animals in the south Kazakhstan and especially around Shymkent. There are also more endemic animals for example the Brown Bear, the wild cat Manul and the Kara Tau Argali. We will report later about them. Stay tuned!