Registan desert

Site description (1994 baseline):

Site location and context
The largest desert area of Afghanistan, due south of Kandahar at 800-1,200 m; it extends over a vast tract of southern Afghanistan to the borders of Pakistani Baluchistan, bordered by the Helmand river to the west and its tributary the Arghestan to the north. The desert contains a wide cross-section of desert biotopes from free-moving sand to gravel plains. The area is very cold in winter, very hot in summer. There is no precise information available on habitats and vegetation, but these are potentially rich and varied.

Key biodiversity
This vast region is virtually unstudied ornithologically, and species listed are based on observations made during the nineteenth century, so no confident comments can be made on present status. Other breeding species probably include Francolinus pondicerianus (possibly), Cursorius cursor, Pterocles coronatus, P. senegallus, P. alchata, Caprimulgus mahrattensis (possibly), Ammomanes cincturus, Alaemon alaudipes, Calandrella rufescens, Hippolais rama, Turdoides caudatus, Petronia xanthocollis and Rhodopechys githaginea. Passage and/or wintering species probably include Phoenicurus erythronota and Rhodopechys mongolica.

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: older reports recorded large herds of Gazella subgutturosa (rare), Equus hemionus onager (V) and possibly Gazella bennetti (V), but these populations have no doubt been decimated. Larger predators included Acinonyx jubatus (V; now surely extinct) and Caracal caracal (rare).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
No official conservation measures are known to have been taken. Over-hunting, overgrazing and destruction of the desert crust are thought to be ubiquitous problems. The population sizes of remaining Chlamydotis undulata and the larger mammals are completely unknown.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Registan desert. Downloaded from on 08/12/2023.