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Hunt Marco Polo Argali in Kyrgyzstan




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Marco Polo argali is indigenous to a number of countries like Afghanistan, China, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzystan and can be hunted only in the later two. Although Kyrgyzystan also holds a very healthy population of Marco Polo sheep, unlike Tajikistan, the sheep here is scattered across the country, which causes the misconception of thinned out population. Nevertheless, national game survey caried out by the Kyrgyz Game Department shows that the country is home to approximately 10.000 argali which is roughly equal to population on the Pamir mountains. 

On the other hand, hunting in Kyrgyzystan is handled differently than the neighbouring Tajikistan. Here, elavations are moderate compared to Tajikistan and Marco Polo hunts take place almost always at less than 13.000 feet, sometimes even as low as 10.000. 

These hunts require long hours of horse riding for seven consecutive days in search of a trophy of a lifetime, although they are completed usually on the 3-5 days into hunting. Hunters stay in camps consisting of stove heated traditional felt yurts or hunting cabins. Most of the Marco Polo argali hunt camps are furnished with saunas to ease the tiredness of a hard hunting day. 

Hunting season for Marco Polo argali starts by September and runs through the end of February with about a six week break in December and early January. There is some debate as to the best time to hunt Marco Polo sheep. Some hunters claim that best time is Sepetember and October as the weather conditions are usually favorable for a successful hunt . Others prefer the month of November when the rut is on. A time frame during this later period is more likely to produce an outstanding trophy although rough weather conditions tend to restrict hunting. 

Majority of Marco Polo sheep hunts in Kyrgyzystan are combined with a Mid Asian ibex hunt as the country is one of the two top destinations for this sought after trophy animal. Another 3 days of hunting has to be added if the ibex to be hunted in the same area.

Some of the game species of Kyrgyzystan has been a controversial issue for many years. Only recently, trophy clarification committee of GSC/Ovis has decided to classify the Hume argali as another subspecies in addition to Marco Polo and Karelini (Tian Shan) while organizations like SCI and USFWS recognize only the latter two subspecies. Howebver GSCO uses Naryn river as the northern boundary for the Hume argali and Fergansky mountains as the southern edge. According to SCI, true Marco Polo exist in a small area in Kyrgyzystan and remainder of the country is occupied by Tian Shan argali. USFWS draws the boundary along the Naryn river and accepts any argali north of this line as Karelini whereas the southern side is considered to be the Marco Polo country.   




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