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Location Afghanistan, Kabul
Central coordinates 69o 12.00' East  34o 30.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i
Area 250 ha
Altitude 1,790 - 1,800m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Site description The only wetland remaining from the once extensive Kabul marshes, on the south-east outskirts of Kabul city on the Kabul-Gardez highway, at c.1,800 m. Kole Hashmat Khan is a small, shallow (c.1.5 m max. depth) L-shaped lake, c.2.5 km long and 300-1,000 m wide. It lies in a basin surrounded by the foothills of the Hindu Kush, and the north-east shore opens into the Logar valley, being connected to the Logar river by a small stream; to the east the hills slope down into the subtropical Jalalabad valley, whereas to the west the hills rise steeply into the Paghman mountains (5,000 m). Past drainage and irrigation have reduced the water in both the lake and the Logar river. Both may become virtually dry in hot summers and the lake is typically frozen for two to three months during winter. In the 1970s the edges of the lake incorporated quite extensive Phragmites reedbeds and were grazed by livestock. There was a large area of basic cultivation between the lake and the village (c.300 people). Southern fields were property of the public bath and the northern fields were owned by local residents. Nomads moved through with their animals each spring, and the area was quite popular for picnicing. Nearby are the popular shrine of Jubur Ansar and the old fortress of Qala-i-Hashmat Khan.

Key Biodiversity The site is used as a migration staging post by waterfowl en route from Pakistan/India to Central Asia and Siberia. A figure of over 30,000 waterbirds has been implied (Day 1988), but this misinterprets data of Niethammer (1967) who states that a total of 32,700 individual birds were seen during a two-year study. Figures quoted below are typical, and at least 157 species have been recorded. Small numbers of waterbirds breed. Other breeding species in the 1960s and/or 1970s included Podiceps nigricollis (30 pairs), Netta rufina (possibly), Aythya ferina (2 pairs) and Porzana pusilla (probable). Acrocephalus scirpaceus apparently bred in 1967, which would be the sole known Afghan site (nests were found but identification needs confirmation). Moderate numbers of waterfowl occur on passage and in winter, including Podiceps nigricollis (233, March), Anas clypeata (471, March), Aythya ferina (2,210, March), Fulica atra (10,000, March), Tringa glareola (500, August) and Chlidonias hybridus (150, May). The lake is frozen in winter and its value for waterfowl then is limited; species include Fulica atra (5,000 in winter).

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala passage  1965-1972  3-5 individuals  good  A1, A4i  Endangered 
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis breeding  1965-1970  100-300 breeding pairs  good  A4i  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Kole Hashmat Khan Waterfowl Sanctuary 191 protected area contained by site 191  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   30%
Wetlands (inland)   70%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture minor
Notes: Agric/cultiv/Rangeland: Cultivation and rangeland
hunting major
Notes: Hunting
tourism/recreation minor
Notes: Recreation
water management major
Notes: Water supply
nature conservation and research 100%
rangeland/pastureland minor
Notes: Agric/cultiv/Rangeland: Cultivation and rangeland

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 Day (1988), Niethammer (1967), Puget (1971), Rahim and Larsson (1978).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Kole Hashmat Khan. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016

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