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Location Kazakhstan, Almaty region
Central coordinates 77o 19.00' East  43o 6.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A3
Area 71,700 ha
Altitude 1,200 - 4,973m
Year of IBA assessment 2006

Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan (Affiliate)



Site description The IBA occupies an impressive portion of the Zailiysky Alatau mountain range that is a frontier unit of one of the heaviest glaciated branches of the great Tianshan mountain range (Northern Tianshan mountain province). The site lies in the highest part of the country, occupying all of the south-eastern flank of the Republic's territory. The southern border of the area lies at the converging massifs of the Zailiysky and Kungey Alatau, with the state border running along the ridge of the latter - the main part of the mountain belongs to Kyrgyzstan. Basically, the site runs north from this juncture, with the highest point being Talgar peak (4,979 m), towards that part of the Zailiysky Alatau range where the upper reaches of several major gorges are located (these gorges descend towards the semi-desert plains of the left bank of the Ily river). At lower levels, the Reserve covers the most substantial streams extending to within a few kilometres of the settlements of Talgar and Issyk. The IBA occupies a wide range of contrasting hydro-thermal regimes and exhibits the characteristic vertical climate zonality of high mountain regions. The distribution of natural complexes follows the altitudinal gradient and contains several main habitat types with an array of ecotones and a mosaic of patches of montane formations of vegetation resulting from the intricacies of the relief. Elevated foothills lie at 1,200-1,800 m and have a generally smooth relief with occasional rock outcrops at the upper margins. In general, this montane belt fits the biogeographical zone of relatively moist cool upland slopes below the timberline dominated by large coniferous trees. This physical stratum exhibits the widest range of habitats varying from dry steppes through narrow riverine mixed forests and fruit tree thickets to deciduous forests giving way ultimately to conifer forest (Picea shrenkiana stands on the northern slopes, Juniperus sabina on the southern). At heights of 2,700 m the fir tree belt is replaced by the sub-alpine zone that stretches up to 3,100 m. The soils of the exposed slopes support highly complex plant communities. The perennial herbage is intermixed with turf-forming grasses and allow, especially in the sub-alpine zone, the creation of an impressively tight sod structure in the upper layer of the soil. A plethora of tumultuous streams flow by the following river-beds: South-Eastern, Left, Middle and Right Talgars, and the Issyk and Southern Issyk. The northern part of the main mountain ridge contains 113 glaciers of various capacity rating, the southern one – 86. The grim aspect of gorges and canyons is enlivened by the presence of several small lakes created where there is obstructed drainage, more often than not by the side of a moraine. The biggest of these waterbodies, Muzkol, covers 4.65 ha.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Himalayan Snowcock Tetraogallus himalayensis resident  2006  250-999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus breeding  2005  < 50 individuals  poor  A1  Near Threatened 
Himalayan Griffon Gyps himalayensis resident  2005  8 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Near Threatened 
Corncrake Crex crex breeding  2005  < 50 individuals  poor  A1  Least Concern 
Ibisbill Ibidorhyncha struthersii resident  2005  3 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus resident  2006  250-999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
White-browed Tit-warbler Leptopoecile sophiae resident  2006  250-999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Sulphur-bellied Warbler Phylloscopus griseolus breeding  2006  50-249 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Hume's Leaf-warbler Phylloscopus humei breeding  2006  1,000-2,499 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria resident  2006  50-249 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
White-tailed Rubythroat Luscinia pectoralis breeding  2006  250-999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Rufous-backed Redstart Phoenicurus erythronotus resident  2006  50-249 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Blue-capped Redstart Phoenicurus caeruleocephala breeding  2007  250-999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
White-winged Redstart Phoenicurus erythrogastrus resident  2006  50-249 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
White-winged Snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis resident  2006  250-999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Black-throated Accentor Prunella atrogularis breeding  2006  1,000-2,499 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris resident  2006  50-249 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Rufous-streaked Accentor Prunella himalayana resident  2006  50-249 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Brown Accentor Prunella fulvescens resident  2006  250-999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta breeding  2006  250-999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Fire-fronted Serin Serinus pusillus resident  2006  1,000-2,499 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Plain Mountain-finch Leucosticte nemoricola resident  2006  1,000-2,499 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Black-headed Mountain-finch Leucosticte brandti resident  2006  50-249 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Red-mantled Rosefinch Carpodacus rhodochlamys resident  2006  1,000-2,499 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Great Rosefinch Carpodacus rubicilla resident  2006  < 50 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
White-winged Grosbeak Mycerobas carnipes resident  2006  250-999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Alma-Atinskiy State Nature Reserve 73,342 is identical to site 71,700  
Alma-Atinskiy Zakaznik 724,000 protected area is adjacent to site 0  
Ele Alatau National Nature Park 164,450 protected area is adjacent to site 0  
Kolsay Lakes National Nature Park 161,045 protected area is adjacent to site 0  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest   25%
Shrubland   10%
Grassland   45%
Wetlands (inland)   3%
Rocky areas   17%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 100%
Notes: Covered by the discharged duty of Nature Reserve protection.

Other biodiversity Higher plants species number 1,100, of which 50 species are rare, including 26 listed in the Red Book of Kazakhstan. The invertebrate fauna is represented by 2,000 species of which insects number 600 species. Vertebrates number about 225 species of which 3 are fish, 2 amphibians, 6 reptiles and 42 mammals. Besides the common Capra sibirica sakeen, the area is renowned for such rare mammal species as Ursus arctus isabellinus, Martes foina eixleben, Uncia uncia shreber and Lynx lynx isabellinus, with the last two species being listed in both the National Red Book and by IUCN.

Protection status Almaty State Nature Reserve provides protection of the typical montane natural complexes represented by the central section of the Zailiysky Alatau Range. The reserve was established in 1931, when 15,000 ha of the territory were proclaimed to be off-limits to any industrial activities. From 1934, the protected area, renamed Almatinsky, expanded to include the contiguous territories of the Zalanash and Syoguy valleys which now cover 856,680 ha. From 1951 to 1961 nature protection activities were disrupted but resumed in earnest in 1964, within the boundaries of the current protected area of 71,700 ha. The headquarters of the Reserve are in the district centre of Talgar, 25 km from the regional centre of Almaty. The area of the Zapovednik is contained by the larger territory of Ele-Alatau. On the south, it is also bordering by two other protected areas.

Acknowledgements A special appreciation for the access to all relevant information is expressed to Altyn Dzhanyspaev, a researcher and Almaty Reserve employee.

References 1. Dzhanyspayev A.D. Ornithological observations in the southern parts of Almaty State Nature Reserve in 2005. Kazakhstan Ornithological Bulletin, Almaty, 2005, P. 79-80. 2. Dzhanyspayev A.D. Almaty State Nature Reserve (in the book “State Reserves and Naional Parks of Kazakhstan”), Almatykitap Publ. House, 2006, P. 64-79. 3. Myrzabekov Zh.M. Specially Protected Areas of Kazakhstan (Ecology, Biodiversity and projecting of their network development), Almaty, 2000.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Almaty State Nature Reserve. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/09/2014

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