The site comprises the Bahu Kalat Protected Area in the extreme south-east corner of Iranian Baluchistan along the Pakistan border. The reserve comprises arid mountain and semi-arid desert habitats straddling the Sarbaz river (25°40'N 61°00'E). Erratic winter rains in the interior of Baluchistan produce some surface flow in most years and occasional torrential floods, but for much of the year the river holds only a series of deep, stagnant pools; there is up to 2,900 ha of 'wetland' habitat. In the south, the reserve includes a stretch of Arabian Sea coast, with high cliffs, long sand beaches and dunes, as well as the estuarine system of the Sarbaz river in Govatar Bay (Khor Govater, 25°10'N 61°30'E, 11,560 ha). A large stand of mangrove Avicennia marina at the river mouth has some of the largest mangrove trees in the country. There are extensive intertidal mudflats, and a tiny rocky islet offshore provides a roost for large numbers of seabirds. The climate is extremely hot all year, with very low winter rainfall; the south-west monsoon keeps humidity high in summer but heavy rain is unusual. The fauna and flora are characteristically Indo-Malayan. A high water-table in the main valley supports open woodland of Acacia, Prosopis, Ziziphus, Tamarix and Phoenix, with stands of oleander Nerium and fan-palms along the river bed. Away from the river the vegetation is extremely sparse, and much of the reserve is almost devoid of plant life except after the very infrequent rains. There is a small fishing village near the river mouth and some livestock grazing in the reserve, but the area is remote and very sparsely populated.
See box for key species. The avifauna of the lower Sarbaz valley is typical of the lowlands of Baluchistan, and has much stronger affinities with the Indo-Malayan fauna than with the Palearctic. Characteristic species include Butastur teesa, Aquila rapax, Gyps bengalensis, Francolinus pondicerianus, Turnix sylvatica, Pterocles exustus, Athene brama, Caprimulgus mahrattensis, Dendrocopos assimilis, Calandrella raytal, Saxicola caprata, Lanius vittatus, Acridotheres tristis, Passer pyrrhonotus and Lonchura malabarica; all except G. bengalensis are known or thought to breed. Other notable breeding species include Hieraaetus fasciatus, Pterocles senegallus, P. lichtensteinii, Anthus similis, Hippolais rama, and Petronia xanthocollis. Winter visitors include Accipiter badius, Phoenicurus erythronotus, Sylvia nana and Phylloscopus inornatus humei. The habitats at the mouth of the Sarbaz river are an important wintering area for Phalacrocorax carbo, Pelecanus crispus, Platalea leucorodia and a variety of shorebirds and gulls. Large numbers of terns occur on passage, including many Sterna bergii. Breeding birds on the coast include Ardeola grayii, Burhinus recurvirostris, Dromas ardeola and Sterna saundersi. Pandion haliaetus occurs in winter, and is thought to breed. At least 204 species have been recorded in the reserve.
Non-bird biodiversity: Reptiles: the Sarbaz river has a thriving population of Crocodylus palustris (V), at its western limit. Mammals: Caracal caracal (rare), Lynx lynx, Gazella bennetti (V), Capra hircus aegagrus (rare) and Ovis ammon (rare), and the rare Baluchistan race of Selenarctos thibetanus (V) is believed to occur.
Data-sheet compiled by Dr D. A. Scott, reviewed by Dept of Environment.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Bahu Kalat (Gandu) Protected Area. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/09/2021.