The IBA is situated in the southern part of Uzbekistan in the valley of the Sherobad river and includes the adjacent mountains, 25 km to the north of Sherobad. The mountains are south-western branches of the Baysuntau ridge. The valley is narrow with adjoining foothills lacking forest-shrub vegetation. The IBA includes the river Sherobad and its valley: the primary and secondary terraces up to 3 km wide and the left part of the river basin.
The arid treeless foothills become more steep to the north with many cliffs. The dominant vegetation is ephemeroid-wormwood associations, sometimes with Ferula sp, and in the more hilly areas a tangle of bushes of wild acanthous almond. Breaking the landscape in some places are large mountain cones such as Kyzylkiya and the Ausyke hole. The rivers in the IBA are the Sherobad and the small Kamyshlau and Uzunkuduk, with high clayey cliffs and stony banks. There are also many dry rivers which fill with water only in spring.
The bottomlands of the river Sherobad have short Tamarix sp. scrub and Populus sp. and sometimes short reed. There are agriculture strips up to 3 km width on the primary river terrace.
Farm roads follow the bottom of the mountain rivers as a rule. The settlements of Gulistan, Chilanzar and Munchk are situated along the river Sherobad. Nearby there is farmland with small fields. Other parts of the IBA are used as seasonal pastures. From April to October cattle move inside the IBA to summer pastures on the Baysuntau ridge.
The list of birds of southern Uzbekistan includes 230 species (Salikhbaev, Ostapenko, 1964): residents 59 species; breeding 90; migrant 36; wintering 38; summer visitor 3; and vagrant 2. L.S.Stepanyan (1975) studied the avifauna of the IBA and added to this list.
In the IBA there is good habitat for breeding raptors. The IBA is situated on a branch of a migration flyway. Numerous migrating flocks of Common Crane and Demoiselle Crane have been observed flying north along the Sherobad valley and above the eastern slopes of the Kugitang range.
In May 2007 60 species were recorded in the IBA. Three species (Coracias garrulus, Falco naumanni and Falco cherrug) are included in the IUCN list of threatened species. The high number of Rollers is due to the jagged clay hilly landscape. Five species (Ammoperdix griseogularis, Sitta tephronota, Oenanthe finshii, Phylloscopus neglectus and Emberiza buchanani) are representatives of the Iranian-Turanian mountians biome. Ammoperdix griseogularis can only be found in this region of Uzbekistan. Phylloscopus neglectus inhabits the wild thorny almond scrub. Emberiza bruniceps, representative of the Eurasian desert and semidesert biome also occurs. Ciconia nigra, Falco naumanni and Falco cherrug are included in national Red Data Book.
Columba eversmanni bred in the plantation near the town of Sherobad in the middle of the last century (Meklenburtsev, 1953). At present it is not found in the IBA.
Non-bird biodiversity: About 70 species of mammal inhabit southern Uzbekistan (Salihbaev, 1964). Among them there are Insectovora, Chiroptera, Rodentia (low diversity), Carnivora and Artiodactyla. Reptilia are represented by about 40 species, Amphibia by 2, Pisces by 25.
In the national Red Data Book, fish include the endemic subspecies of Sabaneiewia aurata (IUCN, 2000 – DD) and the Central Asian endemic Glyptosternum reticulatum; reptiles - Eremias nigricellata, Boiga triginatum, Cycodon striatus, Lythorhinchus ridgewayi and Naja oxiana; birds - Ciconia nigra, Pandion haliaetus, Gypaetus barbatus, Gyps fulvus, Aegypius monachus, Circaetus gallicus, Aquila nipalensis, Aquila heliaca, Aquila chrysaetos, Hieraaetus pennatus, Falco naumanni, Falco cherrug and Falco pelegrinoides; mammals - Otonycteris hemprichi and Lutra lutra.
The vegetation is arid and mostly wormwood-ephemerous associations. National Red Data Book plants include Scutellaria fedtschenkoi (Labiatae), Crocus korolkovii (Iridaceae), Allium ophiophyllum, Tulipa korolkovii, T.tubergeniana, T.turkestanica, T.lanata, Eremurus alberti and E.baissunensis (Liliaceae), Andrachene vvedevskyi and Euphorbia densiusculiformes (Euphorbiaceae).
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The main threat for species and their habitats are overgrazing and cutting of shrubs and trees which leads to soil erosion and degradation of vegetation.
Habitat and land use
The habitats include foothills with rocky deposits and dominant wormwood-ephemeral associations, steep low mountains covered with bushes, mountain rivers with abrupt banks and mesophylous vegetation, bottomlands of the Sherobad river with stony and sandy shallows and tangles of Tamarix sp.
A large part of the area is used as winter pasture. In spring large flocks of sheep move to the summer pastures in Baysuntau and only small numbers remain in the IBA. At present local people continue to cut bushes for firewood.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Middle reaches of the Sherabad River. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 28/01/2020.