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Location Turkmenistan, Balkan
Central coordinates 53o 30.10' East  38o 57.29' North
IBA criteria A4i
Area 7,466 ha
Year of IBA assessment 2007

BirdLife Central Asia Programme (BirdLife Direct Action Programme)

Site description This is the most western IBA in Turkmenistan and in Central Asia. It is situated on Ogurja island 35 km to the south of Hazar. The island is located in the Turkmenbashy district of Balkan region. The site includes Ogurja island and is a sandy strip 40 km length, running north-south, and up to 2 km wide. The area of land is c6,000 hectares, the area of adjoining water is 1,500 hectares. The island is the border between the Turkmen gulf and the Caspian Sea. The nearest distance to the South-Cheleken mainland spit is c15 km. The coast of the island is low and smooth. There is a small bay facing east on the northern tip. The western coast, on the sea side, is a sandy beach, with small lagoons in places. When there is a strong wind all of the beach stays underwater. The island's landscape consists of ridges and hills of fixed and semi-fixed sands with patches of shelly soil in the inter-ridge and inter-dune depressions. The vegetation is herbs with ephemerals and sparse short bushes of Salsola spp., Tamarix sp. and Nitraria sp.

Key Biodiversity The island is favourable for colonial nesting gulls and terns. Until the 1990s the island supported up to 20,000 pairs of Yellow-legged Gull and 200 pairs of Great Black-headed Gull - this represents approximately 4% and 0.5% of their current biogeographical populations. A significant number of shorebirds and other waterbirds, Passeriformes and some species of Falconiformes migrate over the island. There is also an isolated resident population of Alectoris chukar.

Non-bird biodiversity: In the beginning of the 1980s some tens of Gazella subgutturosa were brought to the island. Their number increased and at the beginning of the 1990s reached 2,000 individuals. But at present the number is not more than 600 individuals. Caspian Seal - unique to Central Asia - uses the island’s coasts, mainly the west, but numbers have decreased dramatically.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Common Tern Sterna hirundo breeding  2007  1,000 breeding pairs  good  A4i  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) - nomadic grazing 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 whole area/population (>90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Climate change and severe weather storms and floods happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance work and other activities happening now whole area/population (>90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Pollution garbage & solid waste happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Ogurchinskiy Nature Sanctuary or Partial Reserve 7,000 protected area contained by site 7,000  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland Low bushes  20%
Desert Desert & semi-desert - sandy  70%
Coastline Lagoons; Sand dunes & beaches  10%

Land ownership State.

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
rangeland/pastureland 10%
military 25%
nature conservation and research 55%
other 5%
unknown 5%

Protection status Ogurja zakaznik of Hazar state reserve.

References Panov Е.N., Zykova L.Yu. (1987). Influence ecologically and social factors to reproductive success at great black-headed gull (Larus ichthyaetus). Zoological magazine, Vol.66, Issue 6: 883-894. (in russian). Panov Е.N., Zykova L.Yu., Grabovsky V. I (1990). Nesting biology, behavior and taxonomy of Larus cachinnans. 1. Spatial structure and behavioral aspects of nested biology. Zoological magazine, Vol.69, Issue.12: 92-104. (in russian).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Ogurjaly island. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016

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