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Location Turkmenistan, Balkan
Central coordinates 55o 27.19' East  39o 30.13' North
IBA criteria A1, A3
Area 119,562 ha
Altitude 150 - 1,005m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

BirdLife Central Asia Programme (BirdLife Direct Action Programme)

Site description The IBA is located in the north-western part of the Kopetdag Mountain Range. The site lies just to the south of Bereket and comprises the mid-elevations of the Kuren and Garagoz Ranges with the adjacent upland Yylanly massif. The north-western boundary follows the foothills of the Kurendag Range crossing the tract of land between the villages of Bereket and Danata, skirts the southern and eastern foothills of the Kuren mountains, then descends along the bed of the ancient Kotur mud-torrent down to the southern extremity of the Garagoz Range. After skirting the edge of this mountain range, together with the contiguous Yylanly range, it cuts through Saryajy mountain towards Uzynsu and continues along the northern foothills of the Kurendag Range to Bereket. The Kurendag and Garagoz Ranges are composed of limestone, lime siltstone and Palaeogene-Neogene clay (grey, greenish-grey and, in places, marly). The highest points are Ezzetdag mountain (1,005m.) and Kuren mountain (971m.). Other important points of elevation are the Iskander mountain pass – 326m. a.s.l. and Amannazar mountain (380m. a.s.l.). The landform is typical for dry mountains: hilly ranges strewn with detritus and cut by numerous gorges that usually have a sub-system of clefts running transversely to the axis of the main gorge and frequently ending in small closed hollows. The mountains appear to be an aggregation of fan-shaped ranges lacking a pattern of regular extension. The area sustains a rather weak system of watercourses represented, initially, by a series of intermittent flows arising from the course of the Kotur river and other seasonal streams. The widely scattered springs and wells, often separated by several tens of kilometres, are considered to be the major water sources in the locality. The climate is dry and moderately continental. The amount of annual precipitation is insignificant (190-220mm). Winds are dry and mainly from the north-east and east. Well-developed soils are restricted to very few areas. Related to elevation, the grey Aeolian soils of the foothills give way to their heavier counterparts at 300-700m.a.s.l. that form the upper layer of the gentle slopes, floors of the gorges and depressions. True dark grey soils occur at heights of 700-800 m and are frequently associated with the profuse growth of scrub. Lowland areas often contain plots of alkali soil that acquire occasionally the form of salty clay pans (takyrs). Where there is excess moisture, usually corresponding to rare springs (in the vicinities of Oboichai and Dovletyar, for instance) meadow-related soil compositions develop. The majority of roads and trails in the site are only negotiable during the dry season. The area abounds with cattle-raising infrastructure that usually consists of various combinations of wintering folds for livestock and herdsmen’s dwellings. However, there is no point of significant human population within the IBA. The nearest settlements are small and separated from one another by an average distance of 15-20 km. The overall human population of Bereket etrap (administrative subdivision) is c.50,000 people. The staple trend of the local economy is livestock-raising. Hence, the predominant use of land is grazing. Livestock includes sheep, goats, cows and camels. One of the major threats derives from the practice of firewood collection carried out by indiscriminate cutting of scrub (Juniperus sp., Caragana sp., Haloxilon aphyllum, Salsola sp., Artemisia sp. and others). Other hazards include fires, hay production, overgrazing and hunting, the latter taking place throughout the year. The natural plantations of Aristida provide local people with traditional materials for building and stuffing. The misbalanced use of watering sites by pastoralists (eg in the Danata depression) frequently leads to significant deterioration of adjacent habitats through overgrazing, leading eventually to a complete transformation into barren ground. This exploitation of natural resources is resulting in erosion and decimation of the native flora.

Key Biodiversity 129 species of bird are known from the area, the majority of them (61.8%) being Passerines. Unsustainable use of natural resources (poaching combined with low numbers of murine rodents) is the likely reason for the decline or disappearance of several important breeding species including the 'trigger species' such as Aegypius monachus, Falco cherrug and F. naumanni. The last successful breeding attempt of Gypaetus barbatus was in 1991. In 2007 this species also ceased to breed in contiguous regions, though nesting was confirmed in the area lying immediately to the south-west of Iskander in 1991 and 1995. The most recent observations of individuals were in 2004 and 2007. Migrant raptors include Aquila heliaca (Oboy-Uzynsu locality, 28.04.2007) and Buteo buteo (Kuren mountain, 23.04 2007). From time to time the site is visited by individual Mycerobas carnipes straggling from the remotest parts of Kopetdag. A common species for Kurendag is Oenanthe picata, with the isolated picata race located within the Iranian Uplands. The steppe-like areas are inhabited by Calandrella brachydactyla. There is a recent, and first, report of Monticola saxatilis. Much more research is required.

Non-bird biodiversity: Two species of amphibian and 30 species of reptile have been recorded. Five species are included in the Turkmenistan Red Data Book: Eublepharis turkmenicus, Varanus griseus, Erix miliaris, Naja oxiana and Vipera lebetina. Mammals include 9 species of Carnivore, 3 Ungulates, 5 Duplicidentates, 10 Rodents, and 1 Chiropteran (27 species in total). Nine species are included in the Turkmenistan Red Data Book: Hyaena hyaena, Panthera pardus, Felis manul, Capra aegagrus, Ovis ammon, Myomimus pesonatus, Hystrix indica, Jaculus blandfordi and Calomyscus mystax. 589 vascular plants occur. Ephemerae-Artemisia vegetation of deserts and semi-deserts (in combination with Salsola communities) occupy the whole of the uplands below 500 m. a.s.l.; higher up, meso-xerophytic “sibliak” associations with Salsola sp. and Haloxilon aphyllum also occur. Throughout the outer Palaeogenic clay hills rich motley herbage compositions are found with Eremurus kopetdaghensis, Cleome turkmena, C. coluteoides, Reaumuria botschantzevii, Scrophularia kjurendaghi, Salsola stellulata and S. botschantzewii. In some areas there is a dense growth of Caragana grandiflora. 13 plant species are included in the National Red Book: Anogramma leptophylla, Juniperus turcomanica, Salsola botschantzewii, Acantholimon kjurendaghi, Reaumuria botschantzevii, Astragalus kjurendaghi, Erysimum kerbabaevii, Scrophularia kjurendaghi, Malacocarpus crithimifolius, Lactuca rosularis, Tulipa micheliana, Eremurus kopetdaghensis and Hyacinthus litwinowii. Homalodiscus ochradeni and Eremurus kopetdaghensis are included in the IUCN Red List.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
See-see Partridge Ammoperdix griseogularis resident  2007  20-25 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Saker Falcon Falco cherrug resident  2007  1 breeding pairs  medium  A1  Endangered 
Desert Lark Ammomanes deserti resident  2007  40-50 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Streaked Scrub-warbler Scotocerca inquieta resident  2007  40-45 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Eastern Rock-nuthatch Sitta tephronota resident  2007  40-45 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Finsch's Wheatear Oenanthe finschii breeding  2007  12-15 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Variable Wheatear Oenanthe picata breeding  2007  50-55 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Desert Finch Rhodopechys obsoletus breeding  2007  30-35 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Grey-necked Bunting Emberiza buchanani breeding  2007  15-20 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Red-headed Bunting Emberiza bruniceps breeding  2007  5-7 breeding pairs  medium  A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

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

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%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now whole area/population (>90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Pollution garbage & solid waste happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Mixed; Native coniferous  7%
Shrubland Low bushes; Scrub  5%
Grassland Dry grassland on sandy soils  15%
Desert Desert & semi-desert - clay; Desert & semi-desert - salty; Desert & semi-desert - stony  35%
Rocky areas   36%
Artificial - terrestrial Ruderal land  2%

Land ownership State.

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
rangeland/pastureland 80%
urban/industrial/transport 5%
not utilised 15%

Protection status Not protected.

Access/Land-Owner requests No restrictions, supporting protection of the site, apply at present.

References Ataev Ch.A. (1985). Reptiles of mountains of Turkmenistan. Ashgabat. Ylym. 344. (in russian). Babayev H, Gorelov Yu.K., Ishadov Н., Sherbina E.I. (1978). Materials on rare species of mammals of fauna of Turkmenistan. Proceedings of the Turkmen Academy of Sciences. Biology sciences. Issue 4:56-69. (in russian). Kolesnikov I.I. (1956). Fauna of terraneous vertebrates Kurendag. Proceeding of MASU. Issue 86. Tashkent, 151-214. (in russian). Kuchuruk V., Tashlyev A.O. (1995) Mammals of Turkmenistan. Vol.1, Аshgabat,Ylym. (in russian). Kucheruk V. (2005) Lagomorpha and rodents of deserts of Central Asia. Мoscow, GEOS. (in russian). Kurbanov D.K. (1988). The abstract of flora of Western low-mountain relief and middle mountains of Kopetdag. Ashgabat:Ylym. (in russian) Kurbanov D.K. (1992). The analysis of flora of Northwest Kopetdag. Ashgabat, Ylym, 245. (in russian). Rajapov M. (2002) Biodiversity Strategy and Action plan of Turkmenistan. Ashgabat. Turkmenistan.(in english) Rajapov M. (2002) Country study report on the status of Biodiversity of Turkmenistan. Ashgabat. Turkmenistan.(in english) Rajapov M. R (1999) Red Data Book of Turkmenistan. Volume 1. Invertebrates and vertebrate animals. Ashgabat.Turkmenistan. (in russian). Shammakov S.M. (1968). Faunistic materials about reptiles of small ridges (Malyi Balhan, Kyurendag, Karageoz) the Western Turkmenistan. Herpetology of Central Asia. Tashkent, FAN, 10-15. (in russian).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Kurendag - Garagoz. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016

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