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Location Turkmenistan, Balkan
Central coordinates 53o 16.00' East  39o 20.23' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 29,752 ha
Year of IBA assessment 2005

BirdLife Central Asia Programme (Country programme)

Site description The IBA is situated in the Turkmenbashy district of the Balkan region and extends from 70 km to the south of Turkmenbashy city to 10 km to the south of Hazar city. The site is a coastal strip (up to 5 km wide) in the western and northern parts of the Southern Cheleken Bay, and covers Garakel, Heles and Ordekli Bays. Garakel Bay includes a settlement where there are two small landing stages for bulk-oil tankers. The population of Garakyol is engaged in fishery and hunting. There is also a tourist base “Heles”.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Lesser White-fronted Goose Anser erythropus winter  2001-2005  101 individuals  good  A1  Vulnerable 
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca winter  2001-2005  233 individuals  good  A1  Near Threatened 
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula winter  2001-2005  27-45,993 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala winter  2001-2005  26 individuals  good  A1  Endangered 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  2001  min 20,000 individuals  medium  A4iii   


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland   5%
Desert   5%
Wetlands (inland)   20%
Sea   65%
Artificial - terrestrial   5%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture 5%
military 70%
Notes: border zone
tourism/recreation 15%
urban/industrial/transport 10%

Other biodiversity The fauna includes 40 species of mammals, half of which are rodents (21 species), the others are predators (8), chiropterans (5), insectivores (4), ungulates (2). Reptiles are represented by 30 species, the most significant are water (Natrix natrix) and grass (Natrix tessellata) snakes and the Central Asian agama (Agama sanguinolenta). The flora includes more than 370 species of higher plants. The vegetation of the coast is represented by halophytic and salsolas communities. Sandy areas are fixed by sparse vegetation: ephedra, a few species of Calligonum, Salsola richteri and saxaul (Haloxylon persicum) which is very rare. Carex physodes also occurs sparsely together with scattered ephemerals.

Protection status Not protected.

References Rustamov A.K., Vasilev V.I. (1976) Natural reserves of USSR (Soviet national ornithological Reserve Krasnovodskiy). – Мoscow. Znanie. (in Russian). Aganbegyan, A.G. (1988) Gara-bogaz-gol yesterday, today, tomorrow. - Ashkhabad: Ylym. (in Russian). Atamuradov, H.I. (1999)Red Data Book of Turkmenistan. - Т.1. - Ashkhabad: Turkmenistan. (in Russian). Rajapov, M. Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan for Turkmenistan. Ashgabat, 2002. (in Turkmen, Russian, English). Rajapov, M. Turkmenistan. Country Study on the Status of Biodiversity.Ashgabat, 2002. (in Turkmen, Russian, English).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: South Cheleken Bay. Downloaded from on 25/10/2014

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