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Location Afghanistan, Bamian
Central coordinates 67o 10.00' East  34o 52.00' North
IBA criteria A2, A3
Area 41,000 ha
Altitude 2,900 - 3,800m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Site description A string of deep lakes set in a sheer, steep-sided valley in the Hindu Kush range, 60 km west of Bamyan town; the lakes are situated at c.2,900 m but the valley rises to a high mountain escarpment at c.3,800 m. The series of lakes rises in altitude from west to east, with natural limestone dams forming barriers between them. The boundary of the national park encompasses the entire watershed. The climate is strongly continental and extremely severe, the lakes freezing over in winter. The lakes are mostly too deep and steep-sided for waterfowl, and the surrounding cliffs and escarpment are very barren, but the valley bottom west of the lakes is well vegetated. The small shallow lower lake (Gholaman) has fringing beds of Phragmites and lies in a grazed meadow-like area. The extensive limestone dam between the two largest lakes (Haibat and Zulfiqar) is covered in Salix bushes. To the south is rolling, semi-desert plateau with patches of damp, snow-melt meadow. Large numbers of nomads arrive in spring to graze their flocks in the valley west of the lakes (the only area supporting sufficient vegetation for grazing, where there are also some crops). In the 1970s several thousand tourists per year visited the site which is scenically very beautiful and a natural extension to a visit to the nearby Bamyan valley.

Key Biodiversity Other breeding species include Falco jugger (possibly), Falco pelegrinoides, Tetraogallus himalayensis, Bubo bubo, Calandrella acutirostris, Motacilla citreola, Montifringilla nivalis, Carpodacus synoicus (possibly), Rhodopechys mongolica and Emberiza buchanani. An excellent migration study area, with 152 species recorded (mostly during August-September 1970); species include Phylloscopus griseolus and P. trochiloides nitidus.

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Ovis orientalis (rare), Capra ibex (rare) and Canis lupus (V).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Himalayan Snowcock Tetraogallus himalayensis resident  1970  5 breeding pairs  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Hume's Lark Calandrella acutirostris breeding  1970  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-winged Snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis resident  1970  present  A3  Least Concern 
Afghan Snowfinch Montifringilla theresae resident  1970  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Rhodopechys sanguineus resident  1970  present  A3  Not Recognised 

IBA Monitoring

2008 not assessed not assessed not assessed

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Band-e-Amir Provisional National Park 59,650 is identical to site 41,000  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland   10%
Wetlands (inland)   10%
Rocky areas   80%
Artificial - terrestrial   minor
Shrubland   minor

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
tourism/recreation minor
Notes: Tourism
rangeland/pastureland major
agriculture minor

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 Madge (1970), Petocz and Skogland (1974), Shank and Larsson (1977).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Bande Amir. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016

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