Bukantau Mountain Range

Site description (2006 baseline):

Site location and context
The Bukantau mountain ridge is part of the northern mountain ridge system in the Central Kyzylkum. The highest point is 765 m above sea level, but average altitudes are between 350-500 m. The nearest town is Uchkuduk, situated 50 km to the south. Other large settlements are Kulkuduk and Juskuduk, situated to the south and east of Bukantau respectively. The proposed IBA is the northern side of the mountain. Here there are many steep stony ravines over a length of 3-8 km. These have rare seasonal springs with fresh or brackish water. A large number of nesting raptors is observed here. Although only a few sites have been formally proposed under the A3 biome-restricted criteria (for biome CA04b Eurasian Desert and Semi-desert), many of the IBAs in the Kyzylkum Desert region support populations of biome-restricted species and, effectively, form a network of sites throughout the area.

Key biodiversity
More than 260 species have been recorded at Bukantau. The high number of nesting raptors observed is because of the presence of cliffs and rich foraging (numerous rodents - Spermophilus fulvus, Rhombomys opimus and others). Raptors include Aegypius monachus, Aquila chrysaetos (2-3 pairs), Neophron реrсnорterus, Buteo rufinus, Falco cherrug (4 pairs), Bubo bubo (2-3 pairs), Circaetus gallicus (1-2 pairs) and Falco naumanni. Non-breeding juvenile Gyps fulvus and single Gypaetus barbatus are present at the site. Alectoris chukar, wheatears (including Oenanthe picata – a species on the edge of its distribution), Bucanetes githagineus, Emberiza buchanani and Athene noctua are numerous. Bukantau Mountain is situated in sandy desert and therefore attracts a great number of migrating species.

Non-bird biodiversity: Argali (Ovis ammon severtzovi) were extirpated in the middle of the XX century. Intensive hunting for wild donkeys is conducted here. Gazella subgutturosa is observed regularly especially in winter. The proposed IBA has an isolated and one of the most northern populations of Hemiechinus hypomelas. The small mammal fauna is typical of the desert region. The threatened reptiles - Agrionemys horsfiekdi and Varanus griseus - are common.

Habitat and land use
There are no permanent settlements on the northern mountainsides of the proposed IBA, only a few temporary resting places of shepherds.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The ravines are not usually visited by man, except single shepherds and poachers who plunder raptor nests for nestlings to sell.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Bukantau Mountain Range. Downloaded from on 03/12/2023.