Land and Resources, Plant and Animal Life
types of mountain goat, prized fur, Alpine ibex, curving horns, endangered snow leopard
Uzbekistan’s mixed topography provides divergent wildlife habitats. In the steppes the endangered saiga antelope can be found, as well as roe deer, wolves, foxes, and badgers. The desert monitor, a large lizard that can reach lengths of 1.6 m (5 ft), thrives in the Qyzylqum desert, along with a type of gazelle and a number of rodent species. The river deltas are home to wild boars, jackals, and deer, with a variety of pink deer living in the Amu Darya delta. The Turan (or Caspian) tiger is now extinct: The last one was killed in the Amu Darya delta in 1972. The endangered snow leopard, which has long been hunted illegally for its prized fur, lives in the eastern mountains. The mountains also are home to several types of mountain goat, including the Alpine ibex (characterized by enormous, back-curving horns), as well as lynx, wild boars, wolves, and brown bears.
A number of bird species are native to the steppes, including ring-necked pheasants, black grouse, partridges, falcons, and hawks. Eagles and lammergeyers (a type of vulture) nest in the mountainous regions, preying on marmots and mouse hares. Ducks, geese, and other birds migrate through the marshes of the Ustyurt plateau.
Plant life is equally diverse. Drought-resistant grasses and low shrubs cover the steppes, except in areas that have been cleared for crop cultivation. Ancient walnut-tree forests are located in the lower mountains, whereas spruce, larch, and juniper thrive in the higher elevations. Elm and poplar trees grow along river banks, along with dense stands of brush called tugai.
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