The IBA is situated in the south-west of Turkmenistan 25 km south-west of Etrek and 40 km south-east of Esenguli, in the Esenguly district of Balkan region.
The site includes flood-lands and the right bank of the Etrek river, stretching along the Turkmen-Iranian border between Chelayuk and Etrek. The IBA is 20 km from west to east. The flood-lands are not deep, with gently sloping riversides. The main type of vegetation is a rush–glasswort association with dwarf wormwood and tamarix bushes. The site is located in a dry subtropic zone and has hot dry summers and wet warm winters. The average temperature in January is +4.3oC. Esenguly district is a border zone and the Turkmen-Iranian border pass through the Etrek river bed.
There are more than 200 species of bird.
Passeriformes include Galerida cristata, Calandrella rufescens, Hippolais rama, Passer domesticus and P. indicus, Emberiza bruniceps, Oenanthe picata and others. Among 31 species of Falconiformes, Falco tinnunculus, Circus aeruginosus breed, Athene noctua and Bubo bubo breed. Other breeding species include Porphyrio porphyrio, Tachybaptus ruficollis, Ardea cinerea, A. purpurea and Egretta alba, Caprimulgus aegyptius, Alectoris chukar, Phasianus colchicus, Coturnix coturnix and Francolinus francolinus. Francolinus francolinus is the most noteworthy as its distribution is the Etrek's lower course, an area of not more than 10,000 hectares. This consists of two sections, each with an area of 3,000 hectares, and the space between which is crossed by irrigation canals with thickets of sub-shrubbby and shrubby vegetation. The population numbered more than 200 in past (Rustamov, Vasilyev, 1976). An area of 600 hectares was ploughed in 1990-1991 and after that the number of birds fell to not more than 50 (Karavaev, 1995). Now the number of birds is not more than 10-20 individuals, and the species is on the verge of extinction in the IBA.
In addition to Francolinus francolinus, other species included in the Red Data Book of Turkmenistan (1999) are Porphyrio porphyrio and Bubo bubo (both resident) and Buteo buteo, Circaetus gallicus, Aquila heliaca, Falco cherrug, Falco peregrinus, Falco naumanni and Burhinus oedicnemus (all migrants).
Non-bird biodiversity: As the IBA is desert hygrophilous species are typical. There are 2 species of Amphibian and more than 20 species of Reptiles. Argironemus horsfieldi can sometimes can be found on the margins of the site. Of Mammals Sus scrofa, Canis lupus, Canis aureus, Vulpes vulpes and Lepus tolai are typical. Varanus griseus and Naja oxiana (can be found occasionally in riverside areas), Mellivora capensis, Lutra lutra, Hyaena hyaena and Hystrix indica are included in the Red Data Book of Turkmenistan.
There are representatives of Gramineae and Carex in the floodland meadows. On the banks vegetation is rather dense, especially in spring. These is sea club-rush, rush, reed, cattail and tamarix. Lycium is numerous. The flood-land meadows usuall remain green all summer.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Hay cutting, livestock farming and ranching. Illegal hunting.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
The idea of zapovednik creation belongs to Professor M.K. Laptev, who studied the avifauna of the south-eastern Caspian in 1932. Results of his surveys were published in 1934 and formed the basis of two government regulations (from 3 October 1932 and 13 November 1933) "About the creation of an All-Union zapovednik for waterfowl game-birds on the south-eastern coast of the Caspian Sea in Gasan-Kuli region". This included 6,000 ha of land at Garadegish. The works of M.K. Laptev, K.A. Vorobyev, Yu.A. Isakov and other zoologists provided the basis for the systematic study of birds, including Garadegish where, particularly, A.A. Karavaev made surveys in 1977-1989.
Garadegish is part of the Hazar state reserve.
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Garadegish. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 23/03/2023.