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Location Turkmenistan, Akhal
Central coordinates 58o 22.12' East  38o 10.46' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii
Area 1,421 ha
Altitude 200 - 206m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

BirdLife Central Asia Programme (Country programme)

Site description The IBA is a closed waterbody with sandy gently sloping banks, situated 5 km to the north-west of Ashgabat in the Ruhabat district of Akhal region. The IBA includes a water reservoir and adjoining shores. The reservoir was built in 1963 in the brackish Gurtli depression and obtains its water from the Karakumdarya river which is subject to seasonal flow regulation. The waterbody is 5 km long, 3.75 km wide and 4.36 m deep on average. The maximum depth is 7m and the water surface area is 80,000 hectares, with a shoreline length of 25 km. The shores are sandy, gently sloping, without any steep cliffs. There are plantations of deciduous and coniferous trees in places. In sheltered areas thickets of reed and tamarisk can be found. There is a recreation zone on the shore, attracting more than 200,000 people a year. There are beaches, a boathouse, a recreation department of a hunters and fishing society, rest houses and sport-health complexes. Hunting on the waterbody is banned and only amateur fishing is allowed. Fish fry are released from time to time to enrich the waterbody (100,000 fry were released in 2005). The climate is a dry hot summer and rather mild winter. Precipitation is lowest in July-August, highest in March-April. There is almost no snow. The average air temperature is 0.8C in January, +30.5C in July. The frost-free period is 232 days a year.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Pygmy Cormorant Microcarbo pygmaeus passage  2006-2007  700 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  2006-2007  min 20,000 individuals  medium  A4iii   


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland Low bushes  5%
Desert Desert & semi-desert - sandy  10%
Wetlands (inland) Standing fresh water; Water-fringe vegetation  75%
Artificial - terrestrial Forestry plantations; Other urban & industrial areas; Ruderal land  10%

Land ownership State.

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture 5%
fisheries/aquaculture 15%
tourism/recreation 30%
not utilised 10%
water management 40%

Other biodiversity There are more than 90 species of mammal, 32 of them are Rodents, 21 - Chiroptera, 22 – Carnivora, 7 – Insectivora, 2 – Artiodactyla and 1 - Lagomorpha. Common mammals are Rhombomys opimus, Meriones libycus, Spermophilopsis leptodactylus and Nesokia indica. Common reptiles are Natrix tesellata and Central Asian agama. Shore vegetation consists of thickets of reed (Phragmites australis) and Tamarix. Potamogeton pectinatus dominates the shallows and Myriophyllum the lake. There is a sparse cover of ephemerals on the fixed sandy shore (Calligonum, Salsola richteri, Epherda, Astragalus, Stipagrostis karelinii and others).

Protection status Not protected.

References Rajapov M. R (1999) Red Data Book of Turkmenistan. Volume 1. Invertebrates and vertebrate animals. Ashgabat.Turkmenistan. (in russian). Dementyev P.G. (1952) Birds of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, Proceedings of the Turkmen Academy of Sciences TSSR, Volume 1. 546p.(in russian). Rustamov A.K. (1958) Birds of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, Proceedings of the Turkmen Academy of Sciences TSSR, Volume 2. 333p. (in russian). Nurgeldyev O. N. (1969) Ecology of mammals of plain of Turkmenistan. Ashgabat. (russian). Kucheruk V. (2005) Lagomorpha and rodents of deserts of Central Asia. Мoscow, GEOS. (in russian). Kuchuruk V., Tashlyev A.O. (1995) Mammals of Turkmenistan. Vol.1, Ashgabat,Ylym. (in russian). Shammakov S. M. (1981) Reptile of plain of Turkmenistan. Ashgabat. (russian).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Gurtli. Downloaded from on 25/10/2014

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