The Tabin Stream flows from the northeast through a long valley into a narrow winding gorge, eventually joining the Lesser (Little) Zab River
Several villages are situated in and around the area. There is a spring from an intersecting valley that flows into the Tabin as well as a spring-fed waterfall (Bafil) that has been developed into a tourist site. Archaeological ruins and several important caves lie within the area, including Qizqapan cave (actually a Midean (728 BC–549 BC) tomb carved in the cliff face), located west of the village of Zarzi; the remains of an Islamic-era fort further downstream in the gorge; and the Zarzi and Sara caves. According to Rosti (2011) traces of Neanderthals have been found in Zarzi and Sara, although the caves have not been fully explored
Additional Important Bird Observations: During the surveys, 65 species were seen. In addition to those listed in the table the following Near Threatened species were observed but in sub IBA-threshold numbers: Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus (passage), European Roller Coracias garrulus (breeding) and Semi-collared Flycatcher Ficedula semitorquata (passage). The Sahara-Sindian Desert biome-restricted White-eared Bulbul Pycnonotus leucotis was breeding. Note that Eastern Cinereous Bunting Emberiza semenowi mentioned in the table above is a Near Threatened species.
Other Important Fauna: Spur-thighed Tortoise Testudo graeca are often seen here in pairs, and could likely meet KBA Vulnerability criteria with more study. Fish exist in the Tabin Stream but have not been assessed. On one occasion, electro-fishing was observed in the stream.
Additional Plant & Habitat Information: This site contains a good population of pistachios Pistacia eurycarpa and P. khinjuk, which are economically and culturally important.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Natural resource modification is a very high threat at Chami Razan. In 2012, construction began on the Surqawshan Dam downstream on the Tabin just upstream of its confluence with the Lesser Zab River (the western part of the delineated site). The lower riparian zone on the stream has been severely damaged from gravel mining operations created for the dam construction (this appears to be complete now and the area is now being planned for tourism development). These activities led to the release of high levels of sediment into the Lesser Zab River. Tourism and human intrusion is also a very high threat and the area is heavily impacted particularly due to the Nawruz holiday in spring. Pollution impacts cause by this tourism is also a significant threat and along with tourism development, hunting and animal grazing, was considered a high threat. In the winter of 2010, people were observed electro-fishing in the stream but given the small size of the stream this is likely an infrequent practice. Development and road construction seem to be increasing in areas that are the most popular for tourists. In 2010, development around the Qizqapan cave caused localized erosion. The reservoir that will fill the gorge above the Surqawshan Dam will submerge much of the lower valley in the delineated area causing extensive ecological change and biodiversity loss as well as possibly flooding the ancient Islamic fort (this is not clear). In addition, no plans for fish passages are included in the dam.
Habitat and land use
The landscape is characterized by hills and rocky ridges with sparse mountain forest vegetation (primarily oak forests) and mountain riverine forest. The steep cliffs especially those with less exposure to the sunlight may provide a refuge area for plants. The site is located in the Zagros range, where the geology is a sedimentary limestone, and soil is sandy clay.
The valley is used for grazing and growing vegetables, and there are a number of hoop-greenhouses upstream along the Tabin. The narrow gorge areas are used primarily for grazing. Much of the area, especially near the caves, spring and streams, is popular for picnicking in spring.
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Chami Razan. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 30/01/2023.