The site is situated in the east of Uzbekistan in the north-western spurs of the Turkestan ridge not far from the border with Tadjikistan. Samarkand lies 60 km to the east from it, and Djizak 50 km to the south. The site covers the middle belt of the mountain with a range of landscapes (rock, mountain river and flood plain forest) from 700 m above the sea level (valley of the Sanzar river) to 2,845 m (Chashmardan pass).
151 species, from 15 orders, have been recorded. Сiconiiformes - 2 species, Anseriformes - 4 , Falconiformes - 17, Galliformes – 4, Gruiformes - 3, Charadriiformes - 5, Columbiformes - 8, Cuculiformes - 1, Strigiformes - 4, Caprimulgiformes - 1, Apodiformes – 2, Coraciiformes - 4, Upupaformes - 1, Piciformes - 2, Passeriformes - 93 species.
All birds recorded can be divided into 4 ecological groups: residents – 46 species, nesting – 62 species, wintering – 10 species, migrating – 33 species.
Aegypius monachus and Coracias garrulus are included in the IUCN Red List, and Hieraaetus pennatus, Aquila chrysaetos, Gypaetus barbatus and Gyps fulvus in the Red Data Book of Uzbekistan.
Non-bird biodiversity: There are many species of insects (Yahontov, Davletshina 1962).
In the wet places Green Toad and Marsh Frog can be found. Reptiles are represented by Steppe Tortoise, Turkestan Rock Gecko, Steppe Agama, Turkestan Agama, Halys Viper, Levantine Viper, Mountain Racer, Glass-lizard and others. Mammals are mainly rodents: Large Souslik, Severtzov’s Jerboa, Small Five-toed Jerboa, Turkestan Rat and House Mouse, together with Long-eared Hedgehog, Corsac Fox, Wolf, Brown Bear, Fox, Tolai Hare, Siberian Ibex, Wild Boar, Zaisan Mole Vole, Indian Crested Porcupine and Forest Dormouse. Marinka, Stone Loach and Striped Bystranka occur in the mountain rivers. The vegetation is not species rich and has mainly xerophytes and ephemerals (Demurina,1975).
The foothill plains are developed for dry agriculture, pasture and spray agriculture. Ploughed areas are covered with sedge–grass formations. Couch-grass is dominant on the gentle slopes with melkozem cover on the northern slopes of the low-mountain ridge zone. There are floodland forests along the rivers and large streams. Fescue formations are developed at altitudes higher than 1,800-2,000 m above sea level. Couch-grass and motley grass formations are typical for the middle zone, and dog-rose, barberry, honeysuckle and others are common here. Meadow type vegetation occurs on the north slopes in areas where subsoil water reaches the surface. Juniperus turkestanicus and a semi-globose form of Juniperus forests occur on the steep north slopes of the middle mountain belt, on the south slopes Juniperus zaravshanicus is found, on the watershed - Juniperus turkestanicus.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
There is overgrazing by cattle which leads to changes in the vegetation communities and structure. The natural habitats of the mountain slopes are disrupted by the marble mining activities. Machinery noise, the roar of falling stones and people's presence cause disturbance for breeding birds.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
The Uzbek National Biological Scientific Institute conducted expeditions in the Zarafshan valley in 1935, during which areas located not far from Guralashsay were examined (the NW slopes of the Turkestan ridge), and data on terrestrial vertebrates were published (Dal, 1936). The next studies were carried out by I.A. Abdusalyamov (1969), who studied the avifauna of the Zarafshan mountains. The north slopes not far from Shahristan pass were investigated.
Habitat and land use
The site covers the upper terraces of the Sanzar area in the western part of the Turkestan ridge. It has a highly split relief as a result of erosion. The maximum altitude of the Chumkartau ridge between the Guralash pass to Koshtube pass is 2,700-3,200m. There is a tier of high piedmont plains, a tier of low mountain ridges (below 1,100-2,000 m), a mid-mountain zone with steep slopes (1,800 -2,200-2,600 m.), and a watershed ridge line (2,600-3,400m).
The main watercourse is the Sanzar river. The banks of the mountain rivers are edged with narrow sinuous belts of tall trees, shrubs and summer grass, interrupted by drifts of pebble and clay and loess cliffs.
The mountains are used as pasture and there is a marble mine in Aktashsay.
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Dzhum-Dzhum. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 29/03/2023.