Karnabchul Steppe

Year of compilation: 2006

Site description
The IBA is situated 30 km south of the city of Navoi. Karnabchul is a foothill plain of the Zeravshan ridge, which stretches southwards from Zirabulak and Ziadin mountains. A mountain stream arising in the Zirabulak Mountains crosses the area; the latter is cut with shallow scours, rivulets, and drying beds of temporary streams abounding with small pebbles and crushed stone. There are also salt-marsh depressions and takyrs deprived of any vegetation, and a huge salt marsh named Shorsai. The soil surface mainly consists of loamy-sand and loamy small crushed-stone desert sierozem and gray-brown gypsum soils showing varying levels of salinity.

Key biodiversity
The avifauna consists of 90 species, including 51 nesting species. A large number of species use this area for resting and feeding during migration. The most diverse are waterbirds, with 38 species noted - 11 species are Anseriformes; 13 shorebirds; 4 gulls and terns; 4 Rallidae; 5 Ciconiiformes and 2 species of crane. Five species are included in the IUCN Red Data Book: Falco cherrug, Falco naumanni, Aegypius monachus, Circus macrourus and Chlamydotis undulata. In addition Aquila chrysaetos, Hieraaetus pennatatus, Circaetus gallicus and Pterocles alchata are included in the Red Data Book of Uzbekistan. It is important to emphasize the key role of this site for the protection of Chlamydotis undulata. The number in Karnabchul reaches several dozen during the nesting period.

Non-bird biodiversity: Twenty-seven mammals inhabit the area. The main species are rodents - Citellus fulvus, Spermophilopsis leptodactylus, Allactaga sewertzovi, Allactaga elater, Dipus sagitta, Rattus turkestanikus, Mus musculus, Rhambomys opimus, Meriones lenducus, Ellobius talpinus, Cricetulus migratorius. Also recorded are: Lepus tolai, Vulpes corsac, Felis libyea, Vormela peregusna, Crocidura suaveoleus, Erinaceus auritus and Pipistrellus pipistrellus. Reptiles: Teratoscincus scincus, Gemnodactillus bedtschenkoi, Agama sanguinolenta, Phrynocephalus helioscopus, Phrynocephalus interscapularis, Varanus griseus, Eremias lineolata, Eremias grammica, Eryx tataricus, Taphrometopon lineolatum, Coliber karelini, Coluber tyria, Naja oxiana, and Testudo horsfieldi. Two species are included in the IUCN Red List (Varanus griseus and Testudo horsfieldi). Amphibians are represented by two species: Bufo viridis and Rana ridibunda. The vegetation cover is mainly comprised of wormwood and ephemeral formations. The dominant species are Aretmisia diffusa, Carex pachystylis and Poa bulbosa.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
In the 1950s intensive artificial planting of saxaul was carried out under a government scheme. As a result in the 1980s a significant part of Karnabchul has been taken over by saxaul forest. In recent years illegal collection of fire wood by local people has destroyed all saxaul forest. Since the early 1990s, the condition of the site has been declining due to uncontrolled grazing which affects the distribution and number of birds. For the last 15 years there has been commercial collecting of Testugo horsfieldi. Also commercial hunting of Houbara bustard by foreigners is organized.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
No in-depth faunistic study of the area including the IBA has ever been conducted. However, the following studies have been carried out - climate and its effect on the plant kingdom (Balashova et al, 1963); soils (Genusova, Gorbunova and Kimbert, 1960; Lobova, 1960; Rozanova, 1951); soil humidity (Amelin, Bakhrenkov, 1940; Chalbash, 1958, 1960; Shamsutdinov, 1973); and vegetation (Amelin, 1941; Gaevskaya, Krasnopolin, 1957; Gaevskaya, 1970). Vertebrates animals were studied in the 1970s (Salikhbaev et al., 1967). There are unpublished data on mammals collected by workers from the Tashkent anti-plague station. E.N. Mukhina collected birds in the 1980s (1989).

Protected areas
A state reserve (zakaznik) was set up in 1985 with the purpose of preserving Chlamidotis undulata. During the breeding period of this species, it is advisable to prohibit grazing by cattle to protect the nesting population. It is also desirable to strengthen the level of protection of this species during its seasonal migrations.

Habitat and land use
The IBA includes various key habitats: desert, saline lakes and marshlands, shrubs. The area is used for grazing.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Karnabchul Steppe. Downloaded from on 11/07/2020.