The Sarmish IBA is located in the basin of the mountain river Sarmishsay and in part of the basin of the Karangigursay. It includes typical low mountains of the Kyzylkum desert with an elevation of 1,000-1,100 m above sea level. It is identical in area to the Sarmysh Nature Park. Gentle slopes dominate the landscape and alternate with gorges, rocks, precipices and aligned sites. Vegetation comprises gramineous-wormwood associations; wild thorny almond and other bushes on the stony plots. Hydrophilic vegetation (Tamarix sp., Eleagnus, Tamarix, reed and others) is developed in the gorges on the river banks. There are plantations of mulberry, walnut and other fruit trees. Vegetation cover is heavily degraded as a result of intensive grazing.
There are unique rock paintings – petroglyphs - in the Sarmish gorge which is the basis of the nature park. According to different authors they number 3,000 to 5,000 and are about 25,000 years old (Kadyrova, 2000). There are also spectacular weathered rocks which look like people or animals in the gorge.
All these give the area high historical and cultural significance.
The Sarymsh Nature Park is situated in the southern part of the Karatau ridge, to the south of the Nuratau ridge. The fauna of these mountains are similar. Nuratau ridge has attracted researchers for a long time (Zarudny, 1914; Maklenburtsev, 1937; Kashkarov et al., 1970) and authors mention about 178 species and subspecies of birds, which can be found in Nuratau and Karatau.
The IBA project investigated Sarmish in May 2007. 68 species were found, among them about 60 were nesting. Transect counts were carried out and nests of about 20 species were found.
Typical species were: on dry mountain slopes Emberiza buchanani, Oenanthe finshii and Galerida cristata; on steppe sites Melanocorypha calandra, Emberiza bruniceps and E.calandra; in gardens Carpodacus grandis (migrating), Acridotheres tristis, Sturnus roseus, Passer indicus and other species. Seven species of raptor were found and nesting Falco tinnunculus and Accipiter nisus were recorded. Coracias garrulus was common.
Alectoris chukar and Pterocles orientalis inhabit Sarmish in spite of the high level of grazing and disturbance.
Only one previous article on the birds of Sarmish has been published (Bakaev et al., 2003). The author summarized data on the nesting biology of Alectoris chukar, Streptopelia turtur, Bubo bubo, Caprimulgus aegyptius, Corvus monedula, Sturnus vulgaris turkestanicus, Oriolus oriolus, Carduelis carduelis, Sitta tephronota, Lanius minor and Oenanthe pleshanka.
In addition, Aegypius monachus, Neophron percnopterus, Aquila chrysaetos, Falco naumanni, Falco cherrug, Ciconia nigra, Tetrax tetrax, several species of Oenanthe and other rare species have been recorded in different years and seasons in the IBA and adjacent mountains.
The nature park is located on the Central-Asian flyway and serves as a place for resting for many species from the south of Europe, Asia, Siberia and Kazakhstan on their way to wintering places. There is information about this active flyway in the literature (Zarudny, 1914; Meklenburtsev, 1937; Kashkarov et al, 1970).
Non-bird biodiversity: The fauna of Sarmishsay has not been well studied and only fragmentary information is published. The animals of the nature park have attracted students and teachers of Bukhara University and Navoi teachers' training institute lately because of summer field studies.
Mammals: Hemiechinus hypomelas, Rhinolophus ferrumequinum, R.hipposideros, Myotis blythi, Lepus tolai, Hystrix indica, Spermophilus fulvus, Allactaga severtzovi, A.elater, Rattus turkestanicus, Mus musculus, Meriones lybicus, Rhombomys opinus, Ellobius tancrei, Vormela peregusna, Vulpes vulpes, Ovis ammon severtzovi and others. Of these Hemiechinus hypomelas, R.hipposideros and Ovis ammon severtzovi are included in the Red Data Book of Uzbekistan.
Amphibia are Bufo viridis and Rana ridibinda.
Reptiles include about 20 species including Agrionemys horsfieldi, Trapelus sanguinolentus, Stellio lehmanni, Phrynocephalus helioscopus, Pseudopus apodus, Cyrtopodion fedtschenkoi, C.russowi, Eumeces schneideri, Varanus griseus, Naja oxiana and Vipera lebetina. Naja oxiana and Vipera lebetina are included in the Red Data Book of Uzbekistan.
The springs and brooks form the Sarmishsay in the upper part of Sarmish which flows for a distance of 20 km. Four species of fish and other aquatic species have been recorded. 54 species of invertebrate are known including Planaria sp., Anellida, Rotifera, Copepoda and others. Daphia pulex, D. magna, Chydorus sphaericus, Bosmina longirostris, Alona restangula and others dominate the zooplankton (Niyazov, Raimov, 2006; Niyazov et al, 2003).
The flora of the nature park has not been studied specifically. Wormwood and iris formations are present on the plain steppe. Where wormwood is scarcer, cereals, Carex and ephemerals are more abundant plus mosses, oleaster, cane, tamarisk and other water-loving species. Spirogyra, Closterium, Ulothrix and others grow on stones near the water. There are 15 species of trees and 3 species of bushes in the orchards. Wild thorny almond, blackberry, locoweed, desert-candle, wheat grass, tulip and others can be found in high rocky places.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
At present the park does not have adequate protection and scientific-education activities. Increasing the strictly protected area, control of grazing and recreation, provision of the necessary facilities for tourism and ecotourism development and creating a higher status for the site are necessary. The opportunity of including the adjoining Ok-chol plateau is suggested. Because of high anthropogenic pressure the vertebrate fauna is declining.
The Sarmish Nature park was created by the Navoi province administration. The main aims of the park are: protection of vegetation and animals, inorganic nature, unique rock paintings and historic-cultural heritage, recreation, and the aesthetic and scientific use of protected objects. In general designating the Sarmish nature park an IBA will increase its cultural, nature protection and educational significance.
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Sarmysh Nature Park. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 02/04/2023.