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Location Kazakhstan, Almaty region
Central coordinates 78o 25.00' East  44o 0.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A3
Area 197,600 ha
Altitude 480 - 2,882m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan (Affiliate)

Site description The IBA includes a large part of the Altyn-Emel National National Park, situated in the desert zone of South-East Kazakhstan. It includes desert and semi-desert stony- and clay plains, xerophytic rocky spurs of the Dzhungarskiy Alatau range - Sholak, Digeres, Matay and Kalkany mountains - the famous "Singing Dunes" with surrounding sands, as well as part of the waterbody and shores of the Kapchagay reservoir and Ily river. The western border of the IBA is the border of the Park, the northern the watershed of the mountains, the eastern the Bastchi-Araltobe road, and the southern the middle of the Ily river and water reservoir. There are plots of saxaul scrub on the plains, groups of trees near game-keepers houses and in mountain gorges, and Asiatic poplar groves along the Ily river. Most of the area is open, with scarce grassy vegetation. Besides the Ily river, there only a few water sources – springs and small rivers in gorges disappearing where they meet the plains. The climate is typical continental, with cold winters, but the southern mountain slopes are usually warmer and free from snow creating suitable conditions for a number of wintering bird species.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus non-breeding  2003  30 individuals  medium  A1  Vulnerable 
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni breeding  2004  5-50 individuals  poor  A1  Least Concern 
Saker Falcon Falco cherrug breeding  2004  3-10 breeding pairs  medium  A1  Endangered 
Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus breeding  2004  3-10 breeding pairs  medium  A1  Near Threatened 
Chlamydotis undulata breeding  2004  1 adults only  medium  A3  Not Recognised 
Greater Sandplover Charadrius leschenaultii breeding  2004  unknown  A3  Least Concern 
Pallas's Sandgrouse Syrrhaptes paradoxus breeding  2004  50 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-eyed Pigeon Columba eversmanni breeding  2004  10-20 individuals  poor  A3  Vulnerable 
European Roller Coracias garrulus breeding  2004  100 individuals  medium  A1  Near Threatened 
White-winged Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucopterus resident  2004  unknown  A3  Least Concern 
Great Tit Parus major resident  2004  unknown  A3  Least Concern 
Sykes's Warbler Hippolais rama breeding  2004  unknown  A3  Least Concern 
Desert Warbler Sylvia nana breeding  2004  unknown  A3  Least Concern 
Saxaul Sparrow Passer ammodendri resident  2004  unknown  A3  Least Concern 
Desert Finch Rhodopechys obsoletus breeding  2004  unknown  A3  Least Concern 
Red-headed Bunting Emberiza bruniceps breeding  2004  unknown  A3  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Altun Emel National Nature Park 459,657 protected area contains site 197,600  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Wooded desert & semi-desert  10%
Shrubland Low bushes  5%
Grassland Steppes & dry calcareous  10%
Desert Desert & semi-desert - clay; Desert & semi-desert - sandy  45%
Rocky areas Inland cliffs; Scree, boulders & bare rocky areas  30%
Wetlands (inland) Rivers & streams; Standing fresh water; Water-fringe vegetation  minor

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
rangeland/pastureland 5%
Notes: near villages in eastern part
nature conservation and research 100%

Other biodiversity The territory plays a great role in the conservation of ungulates - Gazella subgutturosa (up to 5,000), Ovis ammon (about 220), Capra sibirica (3,100), introduced Equus hemionus (more than 1,100). Canis lupus, Vulpes vulpes, Erinaceus auritus, Lepus tolai, rodents - Rhombomys opimus, jerboas etc. are common. Common reptiles are: Trapelus sanquinolentus, Phrynocephalus helioscopus, several Eremias sp., snakes - Psammophis lineolatum, Agkistrodon halis, Erix miliaris, Elaphe dione. The vegetation of the plains consists of short Graminea, Artemisia sp., Astragalus sp., Nanophyton sp., Salsola sp.; of bushes - Haloxylon persicum, Salsola arbuscula, Calligonum aphyllum, Halimodendron halodendron. In the mountains: Festuca sulcata, Poa sp., other herbs; of bushes - Spirea sp., Ephedra strobilacea, Caragana frutex, Rosa sp.. Near water: Salix sp., Elaeagnus sp.; along the Ily river – Asiatic poplar (Populus diversifolia) groves.

Protection status The IBA includes a large part of the Altyn-Emel National Park.

References Akhmetov, Kh.A. and Baytanayev, O.A. (2005). The biological diversity of National Park “Altyn-Emel”. Almaty. (in Russian). Berezovikov, N.N. and Belyalov, O.V. (2005). The breeding birds of National Park “Altyn-Emel”. In: Selevinia 2005. Almaty: 86-96. (in Russian).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Altyn-Emel National Park. Downloaded from on 20/09/2014

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