|Central coordinates||65o 0.00' East 30o 30.00' North|
|IBA criteria||A1, A3|
|Altitude||800 - 1,200m|
|Year of IBA assessment||1994|
Site description The largest desert area of Afghanistan, due south of Kandahar at 800-1,200 m; it extends over a vast tract of southern Afghanistan to the borders of Pakistani Baluchistan, bordered by the Helmand river to the west and its tributary the Arghestan to the north. The desert contains a wide cross-section of desert biotopes from free-moving sand to gravel plains. The area is very cold in winter, very hot in summer. There is no precise information available on habitats and vegetation, but these are potentially rich and varied.
Key Biodiversity This vast region is virtually unstudied ornithologically, and species listed are based on observations made during the nineteenth century, so no confident comments can be made on present status. Other breeding species probably include Francolinus pondicerianus (possibly), Cursorius cursor, Pterocles coronatus, P. senegallus, P. alchata, Caprimulgus mahrattensis (possibly), Ammomanes cincturus, Alaemon alaudipes, Calandrella rufescens, Hippolais rama, Turdoides caudatus, Petronia xanthocollis and Rhodopechys githaginea. Passage and/or wintering species probably include Phoenicurus erythronota and Rhodopechys mongolica.
Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: older reports recorded large herds of Gazella subgutturosa (rare), Equus hemionus onager (V) and possibly Gazella bennetti (V), but these populations have no doubt been decimated. Larger predators included Acinonyx jubatus (V; now surely extinct) and Caracal caracal (rare).
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|See-see Partridge Ammoperdix griseogularis||resident||1975||unknown||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Chlamydotis undulata||resident||1975||unknown||-||A1, A3||Not Recognised|
|Cream-coloured Courser Cursorius cursor||resident||1975||unknown||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Spotted Sandgrouse Pterocles senegallus||resident||1975||unknown||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Crowned Sandgrouse Pterocles coronatus||resident||1975||unknown||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Sykes's Nightjar Caprimulgus mahrattensis||breeding||1975||unknown||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Brown-necked Raven Corvus ruficollis||resident||1975||unknown||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Grey Hypocolius Hypocolius ampelinus||breeding||1975||unknown||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Pale Crag-martin Hirundo obsoleta||breeding||1975||unknown||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Greater Hoopoe-lark Alaemon alaudipes||resident||1975||unknown||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Bar-tailed Lark Ammomanes cinctura||resident||1975||unknown||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Desert Lark Ammomanes deserti||resident||1975||unknown||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Streaked Scrub-warbler Scotocerca inquieta||resident||1975||unknown||-||A3||Least Concern|
|White-eared Bulbul Pycnonotus leucotis||resident||1975||unknown||-||A3||Least Concern|
|White-browed Bushchat Saxicola macrorhynchus||resident||1900||present||-||A1, A3||Vulnerable|
|Hume's Wheatear Oenanthe albonigra||resident||1927||unknown||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Variable Wheatear Oenanthe picata||resident||1975||present||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githagineus||resident||1975||unknown||-||A3||Least Concern|
|House Bunting Emberiza striolata||resident||1975||unknown||-||A3||Least Concern|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
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 Sayer and van der Zon (1981), Ticehurst (1927).
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