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Location Tajikistan
Central coordinates 68o 20.73' East  39o 4.25' North
IBA criteria A1, A3
Area 17,732 ha
Altitude 1,900 - 3,500m
Year of IBA assessment 2006





Site description Iskanderkul Lake is situated in the north-eastern part of the Gissar mountain range 60 km to the south-west of Ayni, the district centre. The lake is formed by damming and is freshwater. There are three rivers flowing into the lake: Sarytag, Karakul and Serima. There is one river flowing out - Iskanderkul. This river is a tributary of the Fandarya river which is a main tributary of the Zerafshan river. Dijik, Langar and Saraton villages lie to the north of the lake and Kannoj, Saryrag and Saraton to the south. The IBA is a part of a nature reserve which has an area of 30,000 hectares. This reserve was founded with the purpose of saving the ecological balance of natural complexes and future development of ecological tourism. Good nature conservation work and weak anthropogenic influences promote conservation of this natural complex.

Key Biodiversity 169 species of birds have been recorded, 20 of them are residents, 65 are breeding, 78 are migrants, 4 are vagrants and 1 wintering. Iskanderkul lake and surrounding area supports many birds both breeding and on spring (April to June) and autumn (August to November) migration. Biotopes include rivers, riverside meadows with water-logged ground, broad-leaved and Juniperus forests, mountain slopes with bushes and sub-alpine meadows. Each has a distinctive community. Rare species: globally threatened species - Aythya nyroca, Haliaeetus leucoryphus, Aegypius monachus, Aquila heliaca, Circus macrourus, Falco vespertinus, Falco cherrug, Otis tarda and Coracias garrulus. Species included in the National Red Book: Ciconia nigra, Aquila chrysaetos, Burhinus oedicnemus, Columba palumbus, Myophonus caeruleus, Enicurus scouleri, Leptopoecile sophiae and Garrulax lineatus.

Non-bird biodiversity: Fish: the lake is very deep and cold so has a poor benthic community. There are only Nemachilus sp. of fish present. There was an attempt to acclimatize Salmo ischchan but it failed. Amphibia: Rana ridibunda and Bufo viridis occur. Reptiles: Stellio lehmanni, Coluber ravergieri, Elaphe dione and Agkistrodon halys. Mammals: Rodents include Marmota cаudata, Dryomys nitedula, Cricetulus migratorius, Microtus carruthersi, Ochotona rutila, Apodemus sylvaticus, Rattus rattoides and Lepus tolai. Predators include: Mustela nivalis, Mustela erminea, Martes foina, Vulpes vulpes, Canis lupus, Ursus arctos, Meles meles, Uncia uncia and Felis lynx. In the upper parts of rocky mountains Capra sibirica may be found. Snow leopard (Uncia uncia) is included on the IUCN Red List, and Lynx lynx isabellina and Mustela nivalis in the National Red Book(1988, 1997). Vegetation: geobotanists ascribe Iskanderkul lake to the Zeravshan province of the Middle East Asia geographic natural zone (Stanukovich, 1982). The IBA is situated in desertified steppe and Juniper forests, which are formed mainly by Juniperus zeravshanica and occasionally by J. semibulbosa with differing crown densities. Grass associations have steppe, ephemeral, desert or meadow characters. Artemisia tenuisecta, Artemisia korshinskyi, Stipa caucasica and Stipa kirgisorum dominate. There are many Cousinia, Astragalus sp., Acantholimon tataricum, Acantholimon komarovii, Prangos sp. and Ferula sp. Shrubs include: Rosa ecae, Cerasus verrucosa and Clematis songarica. There are also formations of Aser turkestanicus and Amygdalus bucharicus at lower altitudes. Salix sp., Betula sp. and Populus sp. occur in river valleys. Subalpine steppes and Juniperus bushes occur at higher altitudes.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Himalayan Snowcock Tetraogallus himalayensis resident  2004-2006  4-5 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Saker Falcon Falco cherrug resident  2004-2006  1-2 breeding pairs  medium  A1  Endangered 
Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus resident  2004-2006  1-4 breeding pairs  medium  A1  Near Threatened 
Yellow-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus breeding  2004-2006  25-30 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Hume's Lark Calandrella acutirostris breeding  2004-2006  15-25 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Sulphur-bellied Warbler Phylloscopus griseolus breeding  2004-2006  6-9 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria resident  2004-2006  10-15 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
White-tailed Rubythroat Luscinia pectoralis breeding  2004-2006  5-8 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
White-winged Redstart Phoenicurus erythrogastrus breeding  2004-2006  10-15 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
White-winged Snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis breeding  2004-2006  20-30 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris breeding  2004-2006  20-30 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Rufous-streaked Accentor Prunella himalayana breeding  2004-2006  15-20 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Brown Accentor Prunella fulvescens breeding  2004-2006  30-35 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta breeding  2004-2006  20-25 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Fire-fronted Serin Serinus pusillus breeding  2004-2006  5-8 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Plain Mountain-finch Leucosticte nemoricola resident  2004-2006  30-40 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Rhodopechys sanguineus breeding  2004-2006  10-15 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Not Recognised 
Red-mantled Rosefinch Carpodacus rhodochlamys breeding  2004-2006  7-8 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
White-winged Grosbeak Mycerobas carnipes resident  2004-2006  10-15 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

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

Agricultural expansion and intensification livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Agricultural expansion and intensification wood and pulp plantations (includes afforestation) - small-holder plantations happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Climate change and severe weather drought happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities likely in long term (beyond 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - dams (size unknown) happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  A comprehensive and appropriate management plan exists that aims to maintain or improve the populations of qualifying bird species  Substantive conservation measures are being implemented but these are not comprehensive and are limited by resources and capacity  high 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Iskanderkul'sky Nature Refuge/s (Zakaznik) 28,500 is identical to site 28,500  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest   -
Shrubland   -
Grassland   -
Wetlands (inland)   -
Rocky areas   -
Artificial - terrestrial   5%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
forestry -
nature conservation and research 5%
urban/industrial/transport 5%
tourism/recreation 5%

Protection status A zakaznik was established in 1959 with the purpose of saving the unique natural complex of Iskanderkul lake. Rangers of the zakaznik make annual counts of the fauna, mainly game birds. The Forestry agency of the republic keeps the data. The IBA is situated in the Iskanderkul Zakaznik. It is planned to increase the status of the zakaznik to nature park.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Iskanderkul lake and mountains. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/12/2014

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