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Location Turkmenistan, Balkan
Central coordinates 56o 6.30' East  39o 13.70' North
IBA criteria A1, A3, A4i, A4iii
Area 147,962 ha
Altitude 18 - 70m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

BirdLife Central Asia Programme (BirdLife Direct Action Programme)

Site description The IBA is situated in the northern foothills of the Western Kopetdag and covers a wide strip of land running along the Garagumdarya from east to west (135 km) between Bami and Bereket. Administratively the site is in Balkan region. The IBA is a clay piedmont plain covering the agricultural zone of the Garagumderya with fields of grain (wheat, barley), fodder crops (lucerne), cotton, roadside strips and fallow. The major waterway is the Garagumderya. There are many small irrigation and drainage channels. In the northern part there are two lakes – Chokrak and Donuzajy - within 0.5 km of one another. The climate is dry and temperate-continental, with low precipitation (170-200 mm/year), and predominantly dry north-east and east winds. Soils are light loess-like sierozems, in some areas salty takyrs and takyr soils, and on the periphery saltmarsh (solonchaks).

Key Biodiversity The avifauna includes 17 non-migratory, 50 nesting, 34 wintering and 159 passage species. The main feature of the IBA is that it constitutes a migration 'bottleneck' for sandgrouse moving from Central Asia to the Middle East. Sandgrouse come to the IBA from the north (from Western Kazakhstan and Northwest Turkmenistan) and from the east (flying along the foothills of the Northern Kopetdag from Uzbekistan), and then migrate south, rounding the foothills of the Western Kopetdag. The IBA is situated at the point where sandgrouse turn from the east to the south. More than 100,000 sandgrouse (mostly Pterocles alchata, with smaller numbers of Pterocles orientalis, and in some years Syrrhaptes paradoxus) occur. Birds feed in the wheat and barley fields during the autumn migration from October-November, sometimes to the middle of December. Birds feed a great deal and for long periods (crop samples contained 600-700 grains) and are not afraid of people, sometimes even feeding in vehicles loaded with grain. More than 20,000 waterfowl can occur in autumn and winter on Chokrak and Donuzajy lakes and irrigated fields. Criterion А1 – Falco cherrug. Criterion A4i – more than 20,000 waterfowl during the autumn-winter season on lakes Chokrak and Donuzajy.

Non-bird biodiversity: The fauna is impoverished, even more since the expansion of agricultural development. Amphibians - 2 species (green toad and lake frog) and Reptiles - 20 species of whichthe following are listed in the Red Data Book of Turkmenistan (1999): Eryx miliaris, Naja oxiana, Vipera lebedina and previously present, desert monitor. Mammals - 7 species of predator, 8 species of rodent and 2 species of bat. Red Data Book of Turkmenistan (1999): Hyaena hyaena and Hystrix indica. Before anthropogenic development of the site, ephemeras-sagebrush semi-desert was the dominant vegetation. Now it is agricultural crops (grain, etc.) and, on fallow land, salsolas, scrubby tamarix and reeds.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina passage  2006-2007  3,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Saker Falcon Falco cherrug resident  2006-2007  1 individuals  medium  A1  Endangered 
Streaked Scrub-warbler Scotocerca inquieta breeding  2006-2007  15 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Sykes's Warbler Hippolais rama breeding  2006-2007  50 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Desert Finch Rhodopechys obsoletus breeding  2006-2007  22 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Red-headed Bunting Emberiza bruniceps breeding  2006-2007  10 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds passage  2006  min 20,000 individuals  medium  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2007 medium not assessed not assessed
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - agro-industry farming happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland Low bushes  2%
Desert Desert & semi-desert - clay  3%
Wetlands (inland) Standing brackish & salt water; Water-fringe vegetation  15%
Artificial - terrestrial Arable land; Forestry plantations; Urban parks & gardens  80%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture 75%
rangeland/pastureland 15%
unknown 10%

Protection status None.

References Dementyev P.G. (1952) Birds of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, Proceedings of the Turkmen Academy of Sciences TSSR, Volume 1. 546p. (in russian). Rajapov M. R (1999) Red Data Book of Turkmenistan. Volume 1. Invertebrates and vertebrate animals. Ashgabat.Turkmenistan. (in russian). Kuchuruk V., Tashlyev A.O. (1995) Mammals of Turkmenistan. Vol.1, Аshgabat,Ylym. (in russian). Rustamov A.K. (1958) Birds of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, Proceedings of the Turkmen Academy of Sciences TSSR, Volume 2. 333p. (in russian). Rustamov A.K. (1988) Condition and problems for the protection of rare vertebrate of Turkmenistan listed in the Red Data Book of the USSR. Rare and insufficiently explored animals of Turkmenistan. Ashgabat. Ylym. (in russian).

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

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