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Location Afghanistan, Kandahar
Central coordinates 65o 0.00' East  30o 30.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A3
Area 3,000,000 ha
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).

Populations of IBA trigger species

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 
Cursorius cursor resident  1975  unknown  A3  Not Recognised 
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)
Desert   80%
Shrubland   20%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
hunting major
Notes: Hunting
rangeland/pastureland major

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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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Registan desert. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016

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