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Location Tajikistan
Central coordinates 68o 26.52' East  37o 19.16' North
IBA criteria A1, A3, A4i, A4iii
Area 45,943 ha
Altitude 325 - 530m
Year of IBA assessment 2006

Site description The Tigrovaya Balka nature reserve is situated in south western Tajikistan. It includes part of the Vakhsh valley north from the junction of the Vakhsh and Pyanj rivers. It is a large flat area with three river terraces. The Vakhsh valley portion of the IBA is situated at an altitude of about 325 m above sea level. Some sites on the left bank border with the Kashkakum Sands and rise to 530 m. The highest area is the Hoja-Kaziyon mountains which are 1,000-1,200 m above sea level and are situated in the west of the reserve. In the south-eastern part of the reserve there are mobile sand-dunes. There are several habitats in the IBA: floodland forest, freshwater bodies and marshes, semi-deserts, takirs and solonchaks. The hydrologic network is created by the Vakhsh and Pyandj rivers and their tributaries. At present the flow of the Vakhsh river is regulated by the Nurek and Baypazin hydro power stations. Tugay forests are supported by surface and underground flows only. The maximum depth of lakes in the former riverbed is about 1-2 m, rarely 5-6m. There are about 40 lakes in the zapovednik. All are overgrown with dense aquatic vegetation. The water of these lakes has a mineralization of 1.92-4.67 grammes per litre. The water supply of the lakes is primarily the result of flooding, when the lakes connect with the river temporarily, and also as the result of filtration when river water levels are high. Many floodplain lakes have reduced in area due to use for irrigation and hydro-electric building on the Vakhsh river. Agricultural development of the Vakhsh and Pyandj valleys started in the 1930s. Saxaul bushes were uprooted in the Kashkakum desert over a period of several years. Tugay forests suffered significant exploitation. Uncontrolled hunting and fishing resulted in decreasing numbers of many animal species.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina winter  2003-2006  535-5,477 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Pygmy Cormorant Microcarbo pygmaeus winter  2003-2006  176-630 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Saker Falcon Falco cherrug resident  2003-2006  2-3 individuals  medium  A1  Endangered 
Common Coot Fulica atra winter  2003-2006  5,259-24,640 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Common Crane Grus grus passage  2003-2006  1,200-1,300 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Yellow-eyed Pigeon Columba eversmanni breeding  2003-2006  10-13 breeding pairs  good  A1, A3  Vulnerable 
Pallid Scops-owl Otus brucei breeding  2003-2006  3-4 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius breeding  2003-2006  13-15 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
White-winged Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucopterus resident  2003-2006  20-25 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Brown-necked Raven Corvus ruficollis resident  2003-2006  common  A3  Least Concern 
Great Tit Parus major resident  2003-2006  15-20 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Desert Lark Ammomanes deserti breeding  2003-2006  10-12 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Streaked Scrub-warbler Scotocerca inquieta resident  2003-2006  10-12 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Sykes's Warbler Hippolais rama breeding  2003-2006  22-25 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Desert Warbler Sylvia nana breeding  2003-2006  6-7 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Saxaul Sparrow Passer ammodendri resident  2003-2006  5-7 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Desert Finch Rhodopechys obsoletus resident  2003-2006  common  A3  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  2003  20,000 individuals  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Lower part of Pyandj River Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 0 protected area contained by site 0  
Tigrovaya Balka State Nature Reserve 49,786 is identical to site 49,786  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland   7%
Forest   44%
Grassland   -
Desert   29%
Wetlands (inland)   20%
Rocky areas   -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 100%

Other biodiversity Fish: Pseudoscaphirynchus kaufmanni, P. hermanni, Barbus brachycephalus brachycephalus and Aspiolucius esocinus are included in the Red Data Book of Tajikistan (1988). There are almost only Cyprinidae in lakes in the former riverbed (Cyprinus carpio, Barbus brachycephalus brachycephalus, B. capito conocephalus, Rutilus rutilus, Alburnoides bipunctatus, Gobio gobio, Aspiolucius esocinus, Silurus glanis). Cobitis taenia is sometimes found. Amphibia: Bufo viridis and Rana ridibunda. Reptiles are more diverse. Sauria includes 22 species. Among them 8 inhabit only the zapovednik - Alsophylax tadijkensis, Crossobamon eversmanni, Phrynocephalus mystaceus galli, Phrynocephalus sogdianus, Eremias grammica, Eremias nigrocellata, Phrynocephalus reticulatus and Teratoscincus scincus rustamowi. Snakes include 12 species and 3 of them (Boiga trigonatum melanocephala, Echis multysquamatus and Naja oxiana) are recorded only in the south-western part of Tajikistan. The desert parts of the zapovednik are the most rich in reptiles. Lizards include Teratoscincus scincus scincus, Crossobamon eversmanni, Agama sanguinolenta, several species of Phrynocephalus and Varanus griseus caspius and snakes Echis multysquamatus and Taphrometopon lineolatum. Tugay inhabitants: Eumeces schneideri, Ablepharus brandti, A. grayanus, Lycodon striatus, Coluber ravergieri, Elaphe dione and the venomous Naja oxiana and Vipera lebetina inhabit the floodland bush with tall vegetation. In deserts Naja oxiana lives in places with shrubby vegetation, in foothills and low mountains it keeps to southern slopes with wood-shrubby thickets. Natrix tessellata may be found in all lakes, channels and the Vakhsh river. Agrionemys [Testudo] horsfieldii is common in the foothills of the right bank of the Vahsh river. The herpetofauna of the foothills and low mountains is rather poor. Agama lehmanni, Pseudopus [Ophisaurus] apodus apodus and others inhabit here. Varanus griseus caspius dwells in all landscape zones of the zapovednik but prefers fixed sands and semi-desert foothills. Boiga trigonatum melanocephala is a threatened species. Development of the Vakhsh valley has deprived many species of reptile of their natural habitats which has led to a reduction in their number and distribution. 21 species are included in the Red Data Book of Tajikistan (1988). At present the number of rare and globally threatened species has risen sharply. Mammals: there are 45 species of mammal in the zapovednik. Rare and threatened species include: Panthera [Felis] pardus, Gazella subgutturosa, Cervus elaphus and the extinct Panthera [Felis] tigris virgata. The continued prescence of Panthera [Felis] pardus is doubtful as it has not been recorded in the Hodja-Kaziyon foothills for a long time. Insectivores include Hemiechinus auritus and Crocidura suaveolens. Crocidura suaveolens is a rare endemic species of south Tajikistan. Typical predators in the tugay are Canis aureus and Felis chaus. As a result of anthropogenic pressure the number of predators is very low. Felis chaus is under the threat of extinction, its number in the zapovednik is not more than 25-30 individuals. Hyaena hyaena has become rare in recent years. Other predators are Canis lupus and Vulpes vulpes. Lagomorphs are represented by Lepus tolai. Hystrix indica may be found in foothills and tugays. It is rare and low in numbers. Rodents: Allactaga elater, Meriones libycus and Meriones meridianus inhabit desert; Mus musculus and Nesokia indica live in tugays; Ellobius tancrei in foothills; Spermophilopsis leoptodactylus is sometimes found in the Kashkakum desert. Typical hoofed animals of the tugay are Cervus elaphus bactrianus and Sus scrofa. Cervus elaphus bactrianus is the most typical species of floodland forests in Central Asia and undoubtedly is common in the zapovednik. At present deer may only be found in the zapovednik. Gazella subgutturosa prefers half-fixed sands in the Kashkakun desert. A small population of Ovis vignii occurs in foothills, the right bank of the Vakhsh river, the Hodja-Kaziyon foothills and gently sloping hilly mountains with sparse growth of pistachio trees. Vegetation: woody vegetation consists of poplar, oleaster and poplar-oleaster associations. Poplar forests formed by almost pure associations of Populus pruinosa, sometimes with a small admixture of Populus ariana, covers about 25% of the general area of tugays in the zapovednik. Herbs are luxuriant only on the borders of forests. Typical species are Glycyrrhisa glabra, Erianthus ravennae, Imperata cylindrica, Alhagi canescens, Cynanchum sibiricum and Trachomitum scabrum. Poplar-oleaster forests occur in small patches. Halophytes develop on salt soils of the zapovednik where subterranean water is close to the surface. Tamarix hispida, Halostachys belangeriana, Lycium ruthenicum and Suaeda microphylla are the most common species. Herbage is formed by Aeluropus litoralis, Salsola orientalis, S.micranthera, S.dendroides, Artemisia ferganensis, Zygophyllum oxianum, Alhagi canescens and others. Desert vegetation occurs in the Kashkakum sandy massif. It is represented by the shrubs Haloxylon aphyllum, Calligonum griseum, C.microcarpum and Salsola richteri. In some places Zygophyllum gontscharovoii, Aellenia subaphylla, Hammada leptoclada and other shrubs occur. There are many ephemerals in early spring when the soil is rich in water. These include: Carex physodes, Poa bulbosa, Astragalus, Vulpia, Trisetum cavanillesii, Trigonella geminiflora, Anisantha tectorum and Artemisia scoparia. Vegetation of Buritau peak and the Hodja-Kaziyon mountains consists of short grass semi-savannas. Light forest of pistachio covers a very small part of the zapovednik. Pistacia vera and Amygdalus bucharica are common in this association. Meadows make up 18-19% of the tugay with Calamagrostis and Aeluropus litoralis associations. Grassy marshes are formed by associations of Imperata, Erianthus and Calamus. Lakes are usually surrounded by reed. Rush doesn't form large thickets. There is not much cattail in the lakes. Myriophyllum and Potamogeton pectinatus dominate among submerged vegetation, Najas also occurs. Tugay forest is formed by hygrophilous and heat-loving deciduous salt-resistant trees and shrubs: Populus pruinosa , Elaeagnus angustifolia, Tamarix ramosissima and others. At present the tugays occur as small sections on river floodlands in the south of Central Asia but were formerly widespread.

Protection status The IBA is idential to the Tigrovaya Balka Nature Reserve.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Tigrovaya Balka Nature Reserve. Downloaded from on 22/08/2014

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