Our next stop in our notebooking safari across Asia takes us to Afghanistan. If you’re new to the notebooking safari, visit our first stop here.
We’re going to head into the Pamir region to get a look at our next safari animal. We’re going to have to do some pretty rough mountain climbing, so I hope you brought your gear with you. To get a good look at these animals, we’re going to have to visit a very extreme habitat. Come on!
Wow, that was a long climb! It’s hard to believe how high we are in the mountains! But we’re finally close enough to get a good look at the Pamir argali, which is sometimes called the Marco Polo sheep. Marco Polo was the explorer who traveled through the Pamir highlands and described the animal to the Western world for the first time. If you look up there, on that steep outcropping of rocks, you’ll see why I said the Pamir argali live in an extreme habitat. Do you see it standing there? It’s perched on top of the rocks almost like a bird perches on a limb of a tree. And it lives up there, high on those skinny points of rocks. Some of the herds will graze where there is a level area to feed, but some of them, especially the females, often climb very high into the rocks to avoid being preyed upon by other animals.
The male Pamir argali have those massive horns to fight off predators, but the females’ horns are much smaller. Both male and female argali are very fast runners, which also helps them avoid being killed by other animals. Even with their horns and ability to run fast, the argali live a very dangerous life. The weather can change in an instant up here; the air is thinner and it can grow very cold. Rainstorms can start very unexpectedly.
Uh oh—did you hear that? I just heard an alert on the radio. That means there is severe weather heading our way. Come on, we had better go find out what is going on so we can find someplace safe to wait out the storm.
You can see an engraving of the Pamir argali here.*
Using the information on this page, answer the following questions:
True or False:
- It is common for an argali to live to be twenty years old.
- Argali can often weigh more than 300 pounds (136 kg).
- The Gobi argali is an argali subspecies.
Research challenge: There are nine different subspecies of argali sheep. Choose two or more of them and write several paragraphs comparing and contrasting them. You may use the Pamir argali as one of the subspecies if you’d like.
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