The IBA lies in the most western part of the Kazakhskyi Melkosopochnik (Kazakh Hilly Land). The eastern corner of the roughly rectangular polygon representing the IBA border outline rests against the large industrial settlement of Ulytau situated in the south-eastern foothills of the highest part of the Ulutau mountain massif.
The site is a hilly area elongated in a north-south direction, with separate low rocky mountains. The surrounding landscape in the north is dry steppes (Festuca-Stipa and bush steppe), in the south grass-wormwood semi-desert. Along the river valleys there are some stands of isolated birch-aspen woodland with an admixture of bird cherry, and rock ledges.
The IBA has the limited avifauna common to the vast semi-desert expanses of central Kazakhstan. Raptors are most important, numerically. The majority of these appear on the international or national Red Data Lists (Red Data Book of Kazakhstan, IUCN Red Data Book).
Non-bird biodiversity: The most important mammal is the endangered Ovis ammon collium (Red Data Book of Kazakhstan).
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
A major impact on the wildlife comes from the local mining industry. Although activities have not resulted in the development of sprawling infrastructure, its functioning disrupts the natural systems and there is little control over pollution.
During the last two decades there has been illegal trapping of Falco cherrug.
In 1986, the resolution of the Ministerial Council of the KazSSR (# 69) reconfirmed the status of Ulytau State Nature Zakaznik, established primarily to control and conserve the Ulytau mountains population of Ovis ammon collium. However, since that time, the Reserve has lacked a programme orientating its scanty staff towards bird population protection.
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Ulytau Mountains. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 01/04/2023.