|Most recent IBA monitoring assessment|
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The most typical and highest biodiversity central part of the northern slope of the Zailiyskiy Alatau ridge (Northern Tian Shan), 20 km to the south of Almaty (largest city of Kazakhstan). The IBA includes the whole of the Big Almaty Gorge with smaller gorges Alma-Arasan, Kumbel, Chukur (river basin of the Big Almatinka). In the gorge there are well developed spruce forest belts (with Picea schrenkiana), rocks in nival, alpine and sub-alpine belts, alpine and sub-alpine meadows, juniper stands, glaciers, and the high-mountain Big Almaty Lake (2500 m a.s.l.). The area is well-known among birdwatchers: several organized groups visit every year.
140 bird species have been registered, including 48 residents (with local movements in winter), 48 breeding migrants and 44 observed on passage or wintering. Eight of the breeding species (Gyps himalayensis, Gypaetus barbatus, Hieraaetus pennatus, Aquila chrysaetus, Falco pelegrinoides, Bubo bubo, Myophonus caeruleus, Carpodacus rubicilla) and four of the passage species (Aquila nipalensis, Aquila heliaca, Neophron percnopterus, Anthropoides virgo) are included in the Red Data Book of Kazakhstan. The gorge is the only known breeding site in the world for Carpodacus puniceus, and supports breeding Scolopax rusticola, Zoothera dauma and Phoenicurus phoenicurus all very rare in the Tien Shan.
Non-bird biodiversity: Of large mammals, Siberian Ibex (Capra sibirica) and Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus) are present. Additionally, the very rare Snow Leopard (Uncia uncia) has also been recorded. Marmota baibacina, Ochotona rutila, Martes foina and Mustela erminea are common, as well as a number of species of rodents. Two species of snakes (Agkistrodon halis, Elaphe dione) and one lizard (Ablepharus alaicus) inhabit here. About 1000 plant species, inluding Picea schrenkiana, Malus siversi, Betula tianschanica, Lonicera spp., Rosa spp., Berberis spp., Juniperus spp. are also present.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Big Almaty Gorge. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 21/02/2020.