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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.

Key Biodiversity 140 bird species have been registered, including 48 residents (with local movements in winter), 48 breeding migrants and 44 observed on passage or wintering. Eight of the breeding species (Gyps himalayensis, Gypaetus barbatus, Hieraaetus pennatus, Aquila chrysaetus, Falco pelegrinoides, Bubo bubo, Myophonus caeruleus, Carpodacus rubicilla) and four of the passage species (Aquila nipalensis, Aquila heliaca, Neophron percnopterus, Anthropoides virgo) are included in the Red Data Book of Kazakhstan. The gorge is the only known breeding site in the world for Carpodacus puniceus, and supports breeding Scolopax rusticola, Zoothera dauma and Phoenicurus phoenicurus all very rare in the Tien Shan.

Non-bird 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.

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 

IBA Monitoring

2013 high very unfavourable not assessed
Habitat
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agricultural expansion and intensification livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Climate change and severe weather habitat shifting and alteration happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Energy production and mining renewable energy happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Geological events avalanches/landslides happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Human intrusions and disturbance work and other activities happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - dams (size unknown) happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species gathering terrestrial plants - unintentional effects (species being assessed is not the target) happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: large scale happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Pollution garbage & solid waste happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Residential and commercial development commercial and industrial development happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Residential and commercial development tourism and recreation areas happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Transportation and service corridors roads and railroads happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Transportation and service corridors utility & service lines happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low

Artificial - terrestrial Perennial crops, orchards & groves  0 0 good (> 90%) moderate (70-90%) near favourable
Artificial - terrestrial Ruderal land  0 0 good (> 90%) very poor (< 40%) very unfavourable
Forest Broadleaved deciduous  0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable
Forest Native coniferous  0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable
Forest Treeline ecotone  0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable
Grassland Alpine, subalpine & boreal  0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable
Grassland Steppes & dry calcareous  0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable
Introduced vegetation   0 0 good (> 90%) moderate (70-90%) near favourable
Rocky areas Inland cliffs  0 0 moderate (70-90%) good (> 90%) near favourable
Rocky areas Scree, boulders & bare rocky areas  0 0 moderate (70-90%) good (> 90%) near favourable
Shrubland Juniper scrub  0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable
Shrubland Low bushes  0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable
Shrubland Scrub  0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable
Wetlands (inland) Rivers & streams  0 0 good (> 90%) moderate (70-90%) near favourable
Wetlands (inland) Standing fresh water  0 0 good (> 90%) poor (40-69%) unfavourable

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%

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 26/12/2014

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