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Location Kazakhstan, Almaty region
Central coordinates 76o 59.00' East  43o 4.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A3
Area 22,305 ha
Altitude 1,500 - 4,200m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan (Affiliate)



Site description The most typical and highest biodiversity central part of the northern slope of the Zailiyskiy Alatau ridge (Northern Tian Shan), 20 km to the south of Almaty (largest city of Kazakhstan). The IBA includes the whole of the Big Almaty Gorge with smaller gorges Alma-Arasan, Kumbel, Chukur (river basin of the Big Almatinka). In the gorge there are well developed spruce forest belts (with Picea schrenkiana), rocks in nival, alpine and sub-alpine belts, alpine and sub-alpine meadows, juniper stands, glaciers, and the high-mountain Big Almaty Lake (2500 m a.s.l.). The area is well-known among birdwatchers: several organized groups visit every year.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Himalayan Snowcock Tetraogallus himalayensis resident  2004  250-999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus resident  2004  5-10 individuals  medium  A1  Near Threatened 
Himalayan Griffon Gyps himalayensis resident  2004  10-20 individuals  medium  A3  Near Threatened 
Ibisbill Ibidorhyncha struthersii resident  2004  1-2 breeding pairs  good  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus resident  2004  common  A3  Least Concern 
White-browed Tit-warbler Leptopoecile sophiae resident  2004  50-249 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Sulphur-bellied Warbler Phylloscopus griseolus breeding  2004  common  A3  Least Concern 
Hume's Leaf-warbler Phylloscopus humei breeding  2004  abundant  A3  Least Concern 
Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria resident  2004  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-tailed Rubythroat Luscinia pectoralis breeding  2004  common  A3  Least Concern 
Rufous-backed Redstart Phoenicurus erythronotus breeding  2004  frequent  A3  Least Concern 
Blue-capped Redstart Phoenicurus caeruleocephala breeding  2004  frequent  A3  Least Concern 
White-winged Redstart Phoenicurus erythrogastrus breeding  2004  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black-throated Accentor Prunella atrogularis breeding  2004  abundant  A3  Least Concern 
Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris breeding  2004  common  A3  Least Concern 
Rufous-streaked Accentor Prunella himalayana breeding  2004  common  A3  Least Concern 
Brown Accentor Prunella fulvescens breeding  2004  abundant  A3  Least Concern 
Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta breeding  2004  abundant  A3  Least Concern 
Fire-fronted Serin Serinus pusillus resident  2004  abundant  A3  Least Concern 
Plain Mountain-finch Leucosticte nemoricola breeding  2004  abundant  A3  Least Concern 
Black-headed Mountain-finch Leucosticte brandti breeding  2004  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-mantled Rosefinch Carpodacus rhodochlamys resident  2004  frequent  A3  Least Concern 
Great Rosefinch Carpodacus rubicilla breeding  2004  < 50 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Red-fronted Rosefinch Carpodacus puniceus breeding  2004  < 50 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
White-winged Grosbeak Mycerobas carnipes resident  2004  common  A3  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Ele Alatau National Nature Park 164,450 protected area contains site 22,305  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Rocky areas Inland cliffs; Scree, boulders & bare rocky areas  20%
Forest Broadleaved deciduous; Native coniferous; Treeline ecotone  10%
Shrubland Juniper scrub; Low bushes; Scrub  30%
Grassland Alpine, subalpine & boreal; Steppes & dry calcareous  40%
Wetlands (inland) Rivers & streams; Standing fresh water  minor
Artificial - terrestrial Perennial crops, orchards & groves; Ruderal land  minor
Introduced vegetation   minor

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture 5%
forestry 20%
nature conservation and research 100%
tourism/recreation 50%
urban/industrial/transport 10%
water management minor
Notes: less than 1%
rangeland/pastureland 15%

Other biodiversity Of large mammals, Siberian Ibex (Capra sibirica) and Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus) are present. Additionally, the very rare Snow Leopard (Uncia uncia) has also been recorded. Marmota baibacina, Ochotona rutila, Martes foina and Mustela erminea are common, as well as a number of species of rodents. Two species of snakes (Agkistrodon halis, Elaphe dione) and one lizard (Ablepharus alaicus) inhabit here. About 1000 plant species, inluding Picea schrenkiana, Malus siversi, Betula tianschanica, Lonicera spp., Rosa spp., Berberis spp., Juniperus spp. are also present.

Protection status Ele-Alatau National Park contains the IBA.

References Gubin, B.M., Belyalov, O.V. and Sklyarenko, S.L. (1991) [Ibis-bill in Big Almaty Gorge (Zailiyskiy Alatau)]. Rare birds and mammals of Kazakhstan. Alma-Ata: 189-192. (in Russian).Belyalov, O. and Kovshar, V. (compilers) (2003) [Kazakhstan Ornithological Bulletin 2002]. Almaty. (in Russian).Belyalov, O. and Kovshar, V. (compilers) (2004) [Kazakhstan Ornithological Bulletin 2003]. Almaty. (in Russian).Kovshar, A.F. (1977). [Sub-high-mountain of Tien Shan as transiting belt from forest ornithocomplexes to high-mountain them]. Bulletin of AS of KSSR, 9: 62-69 (in Russian).Kovshar, A.F. (1977) [Polycyclic breeding of passerine birds in sub-high-mountain of Tien Shan]. Zoological Journal, 7: 1071-1076. (in Russian).Kovshar, A.F. (1979) [Songbirds in sub-high-mountain of Tien Shan (studies of summer life of common species)]. Alma-Ata. (in Russian).Kovshar, A.F. (1981) [Peculiarity of breeding of birds in sub-high-mountain]. Almaty. (in Russian).Kovshar, A.F. (1989) [Ibis-bill in Zailiyskiy Alatau]. Ecological aspects of study, practical use and protection of birds in mountain ecosystems. Frunze: 44-46. (in Russian).Kovshar, A.F., Zuiko, B.P., Pfeffer, R.G. and Belyalov, O.V. (1978) [Some ornithological findings in Zailiyskiy Alatau]. Biology of birds in Kazakhstan. Alma-Ata: 115-119. (in Russian).Kovshar, A.F., Levin, A.S. and Gubin, B.M. (1982) [Finding of nests of Brandt's Rose Finch in Tien Shan]. Bulletin of Zoology, 5: 42-46. (in Russian).Kovshar, A.F. and Lopatin, V.V. (1983) [Terms of seasonal migrations of birds in sub-high-mountain of Zailiyskiy Alatau]. Migration of birds in Asia, 8. Alma-Ata: 66-76. (in Russian).Neufeldt, I.A., Leonovich, V.V. and Malyshevskiy, R.I. (1978) [Notes on birds of surrounding of Big Almaty Lake]. Systematic, morphology and biology of birds. Proceedings of ZIN AS USSR, 68. Leningrad: 228-267. (in Russian).Shnitnikov, V.N. (1948) [Birds of Semirechie]. Moscow-Leningrad. (in Russian).Shtegman, B.K. (1954) [On birds of high-mountain zone of Zailiyskiy Alatau]. Proceedings of Leningrad Society of Natural Scientists , Branch of Zoology, v.72, 4: 255-275. (in Russian).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Big Almaty Gorge. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 31/10/2014

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