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Animals and Birds of Siberia: Top 5 Rarest

The chapter is about which animals and birds of Siberia need special human protection today...

Siberia is a beautiful harsh land and home to a huge number of animals. Its territory is home to famous bears, wolves, moose, but also many amazing creatures that today, for various reasons, are on the verge of extinction and are listed in the Red Book. Let's talk about the top 5 rare birds and animals of Siberia.

Siberian Gray Owl: the Queen of the Taiga

This majestic bird is one of the largest owls: its body length reaches up to 80 cm, and its wingspan is up to one and a half meters. This specimen lives mainly in the taiga zone. You can see it at the moment of slow flight, when it is looking for prey, or when it sits with a frown on a tree. Despite its size, the owl weighs up to 2 kg – the plumage visually increases the volume of the bird. Its color is mainly grayish-brown with a transverse pattern and longitudinal stripes in ochre-light and dark brown tones.

This owl has a black spot under its beak, similar to a beard, which is why sometimes it is called “bearded owl”. In Russian, the name of the owl sounds as "neyasyt". According to one version, the word "neyasyt" comes from the adjective "insatiable", and probably there is some truth in this: hese birds love to eat very much. They feed mainly on mouse-like rodents, but sometimes frogs, small birds, and squirrels also get caught in the crossfire. Another distinctive feature of owls is their vocals: males make muffled sounds of 8 or 12 syllables, similar to "whoo-oooo-oooo". Unfortunately, the number of Siberian gray owl is small, and the main reasons for this are deforestation in their nesting sites and poaching.

Barguzin Sable: a Fluffy Symbol of Siberia

Soft and thick sable fur has always been valued at its weight in gold, but the dark fur of the Barguzin sable, which lives in the vicinity of Lake Baikal, is considered the most expensive. Despite protective measures, the extraction of sables does not stop.

But in nature, a nimble predator has almost no serious enemies. Sable loves impenetrable coniferous forests, often settles in cluttered places, where it makes its home in the roots of fallen trees. Barguzin has very strong paws, and thanks to their special structure, it does not fall into the snow and easily climbs branches. The animal feeds on small rodents, but is happy to feast on pine nuts or taiga berries, and sometimes attacks large animals – squirrels, hares. In the case of a long winter, sable can migrate long distances in search of food.

Manul Cat: the Red Book Miracle

No matter how much you love cats, you are unlikely to be able to tame this wildcat. A distinctive feature of manul cats, because of which this species suffers, is a luxurious coat, the thickest and fluffiest among all felines. Manul cats live in open steppe zones. Today, this beautiful Siberian cat is found only in isolated areas in the Altai Territory and Transbaikal.

Externally, the manul cat differs from an ordinary cat with a massive body and short paws. They have a rather severe appearance because of their "whiskers" on the cheeks and round pupils with frowning eyebrows. Small rodents and pipits prevail in their diet, they can also eat small birds, and in summer – insects and berries. Introverts by nature, manul cats are very cautious and secretive cats and even rarely communicate with representatives of their own species. A human learned about these cats thanks to the German naturalist Peter Pallas, who first described this species in 1776. Therefore, the animal has a second name – Pallas's cat.

Siberian Musk Deer: a Deer Carrying Musk

The graceful artiodactyl animal lives in the coniferous forests of Altai, Sayan, Yakutia and looks like a deer, only without horns. However, male musk deer have another means of protection – curved fangs 10 cm long, sticking out from under the upper lip. They use them to fight male competitors during the mating season. A special gland on the belly of musk deer produces musk – this is the most expensive animal product in the world, which is used in medicine and perfumery. For this reason, the number of livestock has been declining for centuries. Today, man has learned to get musk without harm to animals.

Musk deer also have many enemies in the wild. Marten, lynx, wolverine, fox, wolf – all of them wouldn't mind eating a harmless deer. Musk deer has very good hearing, so at the first sign of danger, it tries to escape as quickly as possible. Due to its natural agility, the animal can dramatically change the direction of its movement at high speed and confuse tracks. Musk deer itself is a vegetarian: It feeds on lichens, herbaceous plants, leaves and shoots.

Snow Leopard: Lord of the Mountains

The snow leopard is the only representative of the feline family, living high in the mountains and the least studied on the planet. The smoky gray fur of cats with ring-shaped dark spots is characterized by density and softness: such a fur coat helps the snow leopard to survive in harsh conditions and disguise itself against the background of rocks, but becomes the main target of poachers. Other threats to the cat population include habitat destruction due to climate change and a reduction in the number of wild ungulates, which form the basis of the snow leopard's diet.

In Russia, snow leopards mainly live in Khakassia, Altai Territory, Tuva and Krasnoyarsk Territory. They say that the largest protected group of snow leopards now lives on the territory of the Sayano-Shushenski State Nature Reserve. The World Around You Foundation has been implementing a global strategy for the conservation of the snow leopard and saving a unique species from complete extinction for more than 10 years.

On October 4, World Animal Day is celebrated. It is a good reason to remind us that man is responsible for other living beings on the planet, and we can do our best to change the negative trend, protect nature and maintain the diversity of the animal world on Earth.