Herd of Tian Shan Argali aka Marco Polo argali

Tian Shan Argali Hunting

The Tian Shan Argali (Ovis ammon kerelini) is also called Argali del Tian Shan, and Argali du Tian Shan, but most hunters consider all Argali to be Marco Polo Sheep. The world record head was reported as picked up (1921) in the valley of the Yulduz. Its longest horn measured 70-3/4 x 15-1/2 inches, which is much larger than any other karelini of record.

The Tian Shan Argali

The Tian Shan argali category is divided into two races: heinsii and karelini.

The karelini was described from the Ala Tau range north of Lake Issyk Kul in northeastern Kyrgyzstan and southeastern Kazakhstan, and eastward in the Tian Shan range in Xinjiang, China. It is similar to the Marco Polo, but it’s horns have a tighter curl and are generally thicker. The winter coat has light brown upper parts that lighten gradually to the diffuse, grayish-brown rump patch. The yellowish-white belly is separated from the flanks by a wide dark line. A dark dorsal line runs from shoulders to loins. The neck mane is white, shaded with grayish-brown.

Tian Shan Argali Distribution Map
Distribution Range of Tian Shan Argali (O. a. karelini). Hashed areas show intergrading zones with the Kara Tau Argali (west), Kyrgyz Argali (south-central), and Dzungarian Argali (northeast).

Distribution of the Tian Shan Argali

The Tian Shan mountain range, from southeastern Kazakhstan and eastern Kyrgyzstan eastward to about Urumqi in Xinjiang. Boundaries with the Marco Polo argali to the south and west are unclear. They are distributed across the northern flanks of the Tien Shan mountain range in northeast Kyrgyzstan and southeast Kazakhstan. You can spot the Argali easiest in winter time when the animals come down from the high mountains to search for food.

Marco Polo hunts

Tian Shan Argali (Marco Polo) Hunting

Most Tian Shan argali hunting takes place in Kyrgyzstan. The hunter has to be in reasonably good physical condition, although usually horse riding is involved on this hunt. You will be hunting at high altitudes of 10,000 feet and higher. It is common to combo your hunt with a Mid Asian ibex.

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One thought on “Tian Shan Argali Hunting

  1. Outdoors International says:

    We're putting together a group for Marco Polo hunting in Kyrgystan next fall. If you are interested let us know.

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