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Location Afghanistan, Badghis,Herat
Central coordinates 62o 0.00' East  35o 10.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A3
Area 80,000 ha
Altitude 500 - 1,000m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Site description Barren, hot, desert-steppe plains lying west of the town of Qala-i-Nau in north-west Afghanistan, rising to rounded barren foothills of the Paropamissus (Safed Koh) range to the south, and bordered by Turkmenistan to the north and Iran to the west. The area is between 500 and 1,000 m above sea-level, and fingers of hills project into the plains from the south. Artemisia steppe predominates on the plains, with Pistacia woodland in the hills; patches of Juniperus occur on hills nearer the Paropamissus. Land is mainly used for grazing; Pistacia woodland provides seasonal income to local people.

Key Biodiversity The region is little explored but could perhaps produce species which are associated with the deserts of adjacent Turkmenistan. See box for key species; other known or possible breeding species include Accipiter badius, Merops superciliosus, Melanocorypha bimaculata, Calandrella acutirostris, Saxicola caprata and Scotocerca inquieta. Just south of the region around Sabzak Kotal, Certhia himalayana and Parus rufonuchalis breed in Juniperus scrub.

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Equus hemionus onager (V) may wander from reserves over the Turkmen border, and likewise Gazella subgutturosa (rare); even Acinonyx jubatus (V) could still survive.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni breeding  1972  25 breeding pairs  poor  A1  Least Concern 
Chlamydotis undulata resident  1949  1 individuals  poor  A1, A3  Not Recognised 
Yellow-eyed Pigeon Columba eversmanni breeding  1949  present  A1, A3  Vulnerable 
Brown-necked Raven Corvus ruficollis resident  1975  present  A3  Least Concern 
Streaked Scrub-warbler Scotocerca inquieta resident  1975  present  A3  Least Concern 


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Desert   major
Grassland   minor
Forest   minor

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
rangeland/pastureland major
other minor
Notes: collection of pistachio nuts

Acknowledgements A total of 16 IBAs have been identified in Afghanistan. Responsibility for maintenance and update of the IBA information in WBDB is held by BirdLife Secretariat. The baseline survey of IBAs took place during 1991-1993 and was published in Evans (1994). The site accounts and introduction were compiled from information supplied by S. C. Madge, who acknowledges the impressive series of detailed reports compiled principally by Dr R. G. Petocz and Dr J. A. Sayer, team leaders of the National Parks and Wildlife Management Project, which was initiated at the request of the Government of Afghanistan and administered by the Food and Agriculture Organization under the United Nations Development Programme, and which ran from 1972 to 1980, although most ornithological data were collected in the latter years. Waterfowl counts are based mostly on data collected for the International Waterfowl and Wetlands Research Bureau, chiefly by F. J. Koning, during brief winter and early spring visits in 1970–1972. A. Jamil carried out a survey of Ab-i-Istada for this project, with invaluable assistance from A. Fitzherbert and J. Harris (International Crane Foundation). E. Smith supplied valuable information for the site accounts, and Dr K. Habibi reviewed the first draft of the inventory.

References Paludan (1959), Sayer and van der Zon (1981), Smith (1974).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: North-western steppe. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016

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