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Location Tajikistan
Central coordinates 70o 10.88' East  40o 23.66' North
IBA criteria A1, A3, A4i, A4iii
Area 115,216 ha
Altitude 300 - 700m
Year of IBA assessment 2006

Site description The IBA is situated in northern Tajikistan in the inter-mountain depression of the western part of the Fergana valley. Kayrakkum Reservoir is located in the Syrdarya river valley within Tajikistan. The valley is about 300 km in length from east to west and 30-40 km wide in some places. The Syrdarya river divides the IBA into right and left bank sections. The right bank is a semi-desert plain more than 160 km in length, not more than 2 km wide between the Mogoltau foothills and river but 15-30 km wide in the east. The surface of the plain is deeply cut by mudflows in some places. Since the Kayrakkum Reservoir was built the semi-desert zone of the right bank of the Syrdarya River has been heavily developed and now presents a typical anthropogenic landscape. Species such as Buteo rufinus, Otis tarda, Chlamydotis undulata, Pterocles orientalis, Pterocles alchata and others typical for this area lost their natural habitats, sharply decreased in number and are presently under threat of total disappearance in Tajikistan. On the left bank the plain turns into the hilly foothills of the Turkestan range. The littoral zone is also strongly developed. There is one hydroelectric power station (Kayrakkum) on the Syrdarya river. The climate is strongly continental, arid. There is a very strong wind in the narrow entrance to the Fergana valley, with a speed of 24m/sec or more. Kayrakkum Reservoir was built in 1956 on an upper branch of the Syrdarya river 35-40 km to the west of the river's exit from the Fergana inter-mountain trough. According to data of the Central Asian expedition (Ivanov, 1960) the water surface area is 523 square km, length is 56 km, maximum width is 15 km, max depth near the dam is 25m, the average depth is 8 m. The shoreline is slightly indented. There are sandy semi-desert and Kayrakkum sands on the right bank of the reservoir. Kayrakkum sands are separated by the low mountains Akbeltau, Akchelty and Supetau. There are Kanibadam and Hudjand anthropogenic landscapes to the west and east along the left bank of the reservoir. At present the head of the reservoir is silted for a distance of 10-15 km. This process is connected with the building of the Tahtagul hydroelectric power station on the Naryn River in Kyrgyzstan. Silted areas of the Kanibadam massif with many lakes and shallows, tamarisk, oleaster, poplar thickets and reeds serve as a wintering place for many thousands of Anseriformes, Pelicaniiformes, Charadriiformes and Falconiformes.

Key Biodiversity 248 species of bird have been recorded in the IBA. Among them 46 species are residents (18.55% of the total). Many residents makes minor migrations within breeding areas in the IBA. There are 144 nesting species (58.06% of the avifauna of the IBA). Birds start to arrive at the end of February/March. The main portion of nesting birds arrive in the second half of April and May. Autumn migration begins in the middle of August. Wintering birds are represented by 40 species (16.13% of the avifauna). The remaining 7.26% are migrants and vagrants. Birds occupy different biotopes in the breeding season. There are 18 species on water bodies. 47 species are recorded in the littoral and anthropogenic zones at altitudes of 300 to 900 m above sea level. The foothills and mountain semi-desert zone is a habitat for 31 species. Passerines form a large proportion of species and can be found everywhere. Typical migratory birds include: Circus cyaneus, Circus macrourus, Aquila nipalensis, Aquila heliaca, Falco naumanni, Coturnix coturnix, Grus grus, Grus virgo, Otis tarda, Chlamydotis undulata, Motacilla citreola, Luscinia svecica, Lanius collurio and Lanius schach. Typical breeding birds include: Milvus migrans, Buteo rufinus, Hieraaetus pennatus, Falco tinnunculus, Falco cherrug, Falco pelegrinoides, Falco peregrinus, Burhinus oedicnemus, Pterocles orientalis, Otus scops, Athene noctua, Merops apiaster, Coracias garrulus, Upupa epops, Galerida cristata, Melanocorypha calandra, Melanocorypha bimaculata, Alauda arvensis, Riparia riparia, Hirundo rustica, Hirundo daurica, Anthus campestris, Motacilla personata, Phoenicurus ochruros, Saxicola torquata, Saxicola caprata and Oenanthe isabellina. There are large flocks of Corvus monedula, Corvus frugilegus and Corvus cornix every year during spring and autumn migration. Corvus corax is resident. There is a migration flyway along the Syrdarya river valley, with many Corvidae, Sturnidae, Turdidae, Acrocephalus and Phylloscopus warblers. Sparrows are obeserved migrating in early December. Passer montanus is resident. Wintering birds include: Tachybaptus ruficollis, Podiceps cristatus, Phalacrocorax carbo, Phalacrocorax pygmaeus, Ergetta alba, Ergetta garzetta, Ardea cinerea, Ciconia ciconia, Anser anser, Tadorna ferruginea, Anas penelope, Anas strepera, Anas crecca, Anas platyrhynchos, Anas acuta, Anas clypeta, Aythya ferina, Aythya fuligula, Circus aeruginosus, Circus cyaneus, Circus macrourus, Buteo buteo, Hieraaetus pennatus, Falco tinnunculus, Falco vespertinus, Falco columbaris, Gallinula choropus, Fulica atra, Vanellus vanellus, Tringa totanus, Tringa stagnatilis, Tringa ochropus, Larus ichthyaetus, Larus ridibundus, Larus cachinnans, Syrrhaptes paradoxus, Alcedo atthis, Turdus atrogularis, Corvus frugilegus, Corvus corone, Sturnus vulgaris, Acridotheres tristis, Fringilla coelebs and Emberiza schoeniclus.

Non-bird biodiversity: Fish: there are 34 species of fish, 13 of them are marketable - Esox lucius, Rutilus rutilus, Scardinius erythrophthalmus, Aspius aspius, Barbus brachycephalus, Barbus barbus, Schizothorax intermedius, Abramis brama, Abramis sapa, Capoetobrama kuschakewitschi, Pelecus cultratus, Cyprinus carpio and Silurus glanis. Pseudoscaphirhynchus fedtschenkoi has not been found for the last 15-20 years. Acipenser nudiventris also hasn't been recorded for the last 40-50 years in the Syrdarya river. Amphibia: Bufo viridis occurs on the plains of the Syrdarya river valley up to the upper border of the forest-steppe zone, and sometimes to the alpine meadows. Rana ridibunda inhabits all freshwater bodies, marshlands, irrigation canals and rice fields. Reptiles: there are 11 species of snakes, 17 species of lizards and 1 species of tortoise. Testudo horsfieldi inhabits the clayey sandy semi-deserts, hilly foothills, and sometimes mountains up to 1,200 m above sea level. As a result of the intensive development of the foothills zone for cereal production the number of Testudo horsfieldi is reduced everywhere. Varanus griseus is an inhabitant of sand dunes and pebble hills in semi-deserts. Vipera lebetina and Naja oxiana both occur. Mammals: Erinaceus (Hemiechinus) auritus is a typical inhabitant of semi-deserts, Crocidura leucodon keeps to places with sparse wood-shrub vegetation. Rodentia are represented by 11 species. Citellus relictus and Meriones tamariscinus occur in semi-deserts. Hystrix leucura also occurs. Many rodents and Leporidae serve as a food for birds of prey and predatory mammals. Carnivora include Canis lupus, Canis aureus, Vulpes vulpes, Meles meles, Lutra lutra, Mustela nivalis and Felis chaus. Artiodactyla include Sus scrofa and Gazella subgutturosa, Ovis orientalis severtzovi and Cervus elaphus bactrianus were common in the past but do not occur at present. Vegetation: there are more than 3,000 species of plant recorded. Littoral and anthropogenic zones are represented by cultivar plants, reed, cattail, sedge and others. There is a zone of desert ephemeral vegetation. Spring ephemeral vegetation is very rich and beautiful. There are Poplar forests (tugay), dominated by Populus pruinosa, and thickets of tall grasses (Phragmites australis, Saccharum spontaneum, different species of Typha) in the river floodlands. In the foothills ephemeral vegetation is represented by couch grass. There are associations of Artemisia mogoltavica (A. cina) and a rich layer of ephemerals in spring (mainly Poa bulbosa, Carex pachystylis, Carex physodes, Anisantha tectorum) on pit-run fine soil. Convolvulus hamadae (C. subsericeus) dominates on sandy soils.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos winter  2004-2006  10,301-17,856 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Pygmy Cormorant Microcarbo pygmaeus winter  2004-2006  396-693 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Saker Falcon Falco cherrug resident  2004-2006  30 breeding pairs  medium  A1  Endangered 
Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus resident  2004-2006  12 breeding pairs  medium  A1  Near Threatened 
Chlamydotis undulata breeding  2004-2006  rare  A3  Not Recognised 
Great Bustard Otis tarda passage  2004-2006  20 individuals  medium  A1  Vulnerable 
Common Crane Grus grus passage  2004-2006  2,800-3,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Yellow-eyed Pigeon Columba eversmanni breeding  2004-2006  25 breeding pairs  good  A1, A3  Vulnerable 
Pallid Scops-owl Otus brucei breeding  2004-2006  5-8 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius breeding  2004-2006  3-4 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
European Roller Coracias garrulus breeding  2004-2006  75 breeding pairs  good  A1  Least Concern 
White-winged Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucopterus resident  2004-2006  10-12 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Parus bokharensis resident  2004-2006  120-150 breeding pairs  good  A3  Not Recognised 
Desert Lark Ammomanes deserti resident  2004-2006  3-4 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Streaked Scrub-warbler Scotocerca inquieta resident  2004-2006  2-3 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Sykes's Warbler Hippolais rama breeding  2004-2006  5-8 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Desert Warbler Sylvia nana breeding  2004-2006  5-6 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Saxaul Sparrow Passer ammodendri resident  2004-2006  5-8 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Desert Finch Rhodopechys obsoletus resident  2004-2006  3-5 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds 2004  present  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2006 high not assessed medium
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - agro-industry farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Agriculture and aquaculture marine and freshwater aquaculture - subsistence/artisinal aquaculture happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Biological resource use logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Climate change and severe weather drought happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - unspecified species happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - dams (size unknown) happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Pollution domestic & urban waste water - type unknown/unrecorded happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Transportation and service corridors roads and railroads happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  A management plan exists but it is out of date or not comprehensive  Substantive conservation measures are being implemented but these are not comprehensive and are limited by resources and capacity  medium 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Kayrakum Reservoir Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 52,000 protected area contained by site 52,000  
Syrdarya Nature Refuge/s (Zakaznik) 4,000 protected area contained by site 4,000  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest   4%
Shrubland   23%
Desert   14%
Wetlands (inland)   38%
Artificial - terrestrial   21%
Introduced vegetation   -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture 45%
fisheries/aquaculture -
forestry 10%
hunting 5%
nature conservation and research 100%
urban/industrial/transport 10%
water management 18%

Protection status The Syrdarya State zakaznik was created to save the biodiversity of the Syrdarya river basin in Tajikistan. Nature conservation measures and good forage reserves will maintain the rich summer avifauna and more than 40 species of wintering waterbirds arriving at the end of August and September and leaving to breed in February, March and April.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Kayrakkum Reservoir. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife