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Big Almaty Gorge
Kazakhstan, Almaty region
76o 59.00' East 43o 4.00' North
1,500 - 4,200m
Year of IBA assessment
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.
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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