Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

Hello all; first of all, I am sorry for my hiatus from posts (paucity of posting) for such a long time, but also, I am happy to say that I have found a new home on the web, and I will be once again posting much more frequently!


From now on, I will be posting about Tajikistan at

I hope you will head over and check us out.


Marco Polo sheep

Posted: April 15, 2012 in Environment, Region, Tajikistan, Wildlife

Marco Polo sheep

The Marco Polo sheep (Ovis amon polii) are mainly found on the highlands of the Eastern Pamirs


(c) Beth Wald


The Marco Polo sheep is considered near threatened according to the red list of IUCN


(c) Eric Dragesco


Reports concerning the Marco Polo sheep

Survey Eastern Pamirs – Dec. 2009 (complete report in english)

Survey Eastern Pamirs – Dec. 2009 (brief report in russian)

The Marco Polo sheep (in Zoo view)


(c) Eric Dragesco


What can Wikipedia tell us about the Marco Polo sheep?

source: (15.07.2010)

The Marco Polo sheep (Ovis ammon polii) is a subspecies of argali sheep, named after Marco Polo. Their habitat is the mountainous regions of Central Asia. Marco Polo sheep are distinguishable mostly by their large size and spiraling horns. Their conservation status is “near threatened” and efforts have been made to protect their numbers and keep them from commercial hunting. It has also been suggested that crossing them with domestic sheep could have agricultural benefits.


The binomial name of the species as a whole is Ovis ammon,[3] described by Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in 1758,[1] and all members of the species are commonly called “argali”.[4] The Marco Polo subspecies Ovis ammon polii was first described scientifically by Indian zoologist Edward Blyth in 1841.[4] These sheep are also commonly called “Marco Polo’s Argali”[5] or the “Pamir Argali.”[6].

The sheep are named after the 13th century explorer Marco Polo because he described them in his book The Travels of Marco Polo.[7] The 1914 Historical and Political Gazetteer of Afghanistan: Badakhshan notes that in Badakhshan ProvinceAfghanistan the sheep are known locally as nakhjipar[8]via Marco Polo sheep.

IN 1929, RUSSIAN botanist Nikolai Vavilov travelled to Central Asia on one of the many seed-collecting expeditions that took him to five continents over more than two decades. In what is now present-day Kazakhstan, Vavilov – the father of modern seed banks – found forests of wild as well as cultivated varieties of fruit. Around the city of Alma Ata, he was astonished by the profusion of apple trees, writing in his journal that he believed he had “stumbled upon the centre of origin for the apple, where wild apples were difficult to even distinguish from those which were being cultivated”.


A glorious past

The station is undeniably dilapidated, and little plant breeding or research into plant genomes is now carried out there. A visit by American scientists from the US Department of Agriculture, as long ago as 1975, reported “the buildings are old and run down and poorly equipped… the laboratories are grossly inadequate by US standards”. Stripped of funds since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, parts of the station lie virtually abandoned. In other areas, staff do little more than maintain the collection of old varieties. Even so, the collection is unique and potentially of great value.

In recent years, nobody has crosschecked the station’s plants with other collections outside Russia. Nonetheless, international authorities say the collection probably contains many genes of potentially great value in developing new commercial varieties. Many of its varieties are unusually hardy in cold temperatures and are disease-resistant. “It is possible that some samples are being duplicated elsewhere, but the majority are not,” says the Director General of the Vavilov Institute, Nikolai Dzyubenko.

“It would be a major tragedy if the collection were lost,” says one of the world’s leading strawberry breeders, Jim Hancock of Michigan State University. Norman Looney, president of the International Society for Horticultural Science, says the station’s collection “represents work performed over more than 150 years and has survived both climatic and political catastrophe. It is the largest such collection in Europe and the only one at this far-north latitude.”

Vavilov began collecting plants across Asia in 1916, working first on wild and early cultivated varieties of wheat and other grain crops, before moving on to other crops and other continents and establishing the research stations that housed his collections. Through his travels in the Caucasus, Afghanistan, the Pamir Mountains of Central Asia, Japan, China, Korea, the Middle East, North Africa, and Latin America, Vavilov realised that cradles of botanical diversity were most often found in mountainous regions, where the many changes in topography and climate led to the evolution and development of highly diverse species.

The Pavlovsk experimental station, established in 1926, is one of 11 seed banks that Vavilov created across the former Soviet Union. In the 1930s he worked diligently to expand his collections, but as the decade wore on he ran afoul of Joseph Stalin for disputing the views of the quack scientist, Trofim Lysenko, a Stalin favourite who maintained that characteristics acquired through the environment could be inherited. Vavilov was arrested by Stalin’s secret police and thrown into the gulag, where he died of starvation in 1943. During the Nazi siege of Leningrad during World War II, scientists at Vavilov’s institute protected its collections, with some succumbing to starvation rather than consuming the collection’s rice and other crops.

Vavilov’s successors continue his work to this day, particularly in Siberia and the Russian Far East, where wild berries remain an important part of the local diet. Sergey Alexanian, vice director of International Relations for the Vavilov Institute, says “there have been hundreds of explorations involving thousands of researchers.”

via New hope for Russia’s rare plant reserve – Features – ABC Environment (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

The stone history of the mountainous nature of Tajikistan is well-exposed and easily accessible to study. There are numerous deposits of fossil fauna and flora, tens of which are unique; however, none of these is protected by the state. Some of the easily accessible deposits of fossils are now under the threat of destruction due to human activity.

Identification of the logic of the origin, development and extinction of ancient biosystems allows to learn more about the present biodiversity, reasons for survival, vulnerability, fragility and instability, and to work out the best solutions on species conservation.

Precambrian (more than 570 m.y.) fossils are rare in Tajikistan; they are represented by the remnants of primitive algae and rare invertebrates.

The oldest precise age of fossils found in Tajikistan is Paleozoic (570-230 m.y. ago). The Paleozoic organic world of Tajikistan is rich in composition. The territory of Paleozoic Tajikistan was occupied by tropical sea. At the end of Paleozoic, the total area of the present Northern, Central, and, partly, Eastern Tajikistan was free of water. That was the age when spore-bearing and gymnosperm plants developed. All classes of cold-blooded vertebrates (agnathous, fish, amphibian, and reptiles) appeared in Paleozoic. The invertebrates of the Paleozoic were represented by conodonts, brachiopods, rugoses, and tabulates; the first half of Paleozoic – by trilobites, archaeocyathids, graptolites, tentaculites, nautiloids, and endoceratites; in the second half of Paleozoic, goniatites and foraminifers were common. Peaks of sea invertebrate biodiversity were in Late Cambrian, Middle Ordovician, Early Devonian, Early Carboniferous, and Early Permian. Paleozoic fossils are found in numerous deposits of Tien Shan and the Pamirs.

By the beginning of Mesozoic (230-67 m.y. ago), the northern, Northeastern, Central, and a part of Southern Tajikistan was occupied by land, with young mountains; the Southern Tajikistan was a sea bottom. In Mesozoic, gymnosperms and filices dominated here. In the second half of Cretaceous, higher angiosperms were dominating. Of vertebrates, reptiles were common. Warm-blooded animals – mammals and birds – also appeared in Mesozoic. Invertebrates of Tajikistan were widely represented by ammonoids, bivalves (oysters, rudists); in early Mesozoic – by conodonts, in late Mesozoic – by echinoids. Peaks of sea invertebrate biodiversity were reached in Late Triassic, Middle Jurassic, and Middle Cretaceous. The Mesozoic fossils of Tajikistan were defined from numerous deposits of Tien Shan and the Pamirs.

via ..::Biodiversity – Fossil Fauna and Flora::.. National Biodiversity and Biosafety Center.

Sustainable land management systems are becoming vital to the preservation of the Pamir-Alai mountain ecosystems upon which local people rely for their livelihoods.

via Pastures for the future in Kyrgyzstan – YouTube.


Porcupine Meat To Cure TB? Tajiks Turn To Risky Folk Remedies.

Husein Rahmonov, deputy head of the Dushanbe-based National Center for Heart Disease, agrees. Unconventional treatments are especially popular among patients suffering from depression, insomnia, infertility, and chronic pain, he says, “But sometimes patients with more acute health problems also turn to healers.”

The consequences can be dire, as in cases of treatable patients wasting valuable time and seeking the advice of a medical doctor only after it’s too late; or they can be less conspicuous, such as when populations of abundant local animals are affected.