Site description (1994 baseline)
The Kavir region lies near the north-west corner of Iran's vast, arid central basin and between the Dasht-i Kavir (Salt Desert) and Daryacheh Namak (Salt Lake). The centre of the Protected Area is c.110 km south-east of Tehran. A chain of low rocky mountains (rising to 2,015 m at Siah-Kuh) runs through the alluvial plains (700-1,000 m) which form the remainder of this region. During prolonged drought virtually the entire area appears to be barren, shrubs and perennial herbs being confined to wadis or other drainage features. However, winter rains and snow may trigger a profuse growth of grasses and flowering plants which carpet much of the area in spring. Open associations of 'tragacanthic' or other Astragalus species, together with some spiny Cousinia and Artemisia (mostly A. herb-alba), are prevalent above 1,500 m. At lower elevations, Artemisia species are the commonest shrubs, while salt-tolerant plants such as Alhagi, Salsola, Haloxylon, Suaeda, Zygophyllum and Seidlitzia dominate in the more saline valley basins. The region is within easy access of Tehran, and is ideally situated for the promotion of eco-tourism. An old caravanserai in the west-central portion of the National Park has been restored as a guest house and visitor centre. Land ownership is public.
See box for key species. The reserve supports the characteristic desert avifauna of Iran's central plateau, and is an important breeding area for Chlamydotis undulata. It is also one of the best areas in the country for Pterocles coronatus, with up to 600 gathering to drink at a spring in the centre of the reserve. Other notable breeding species include Buteo rufinus, Falco tinnunculus, Cursorius cursor, Ammomanes cincturus, Hirundo obsoleta, Scotocerca inquieta and Rhodopechys githaginea. Rhodopechys mongolica occurs in large flocks in winter, and Accipiter nisus and Circus cyaneus also winter. Aquila nipalensis is regular on passage, and many passerine night-migrants stop over briefly at the small springs in spring and autumn; other passage migrants include Ciconia ciconia, Circus aeruginosus, Coturnix coturnix and Grus grus. At least 121 species have been recorded in the reserve.
Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Gazella dorcas fuscifrons (V), Ovis ammon (rare), Capra hircus aegagrus (rare), Caracal caracal (rare), Lynx lynx (rare), Canis lupus (V). Equus hemionus (V) was fairly common in the 1970s, and Acinonyx jubatus (V) was occasionally reported, but these both seem to have disappeared.
Data-sheet compiled by Dr D. A. Scott, reviewed by Dept of Environment.
BirdLife International (2024) Important Bird Area factsheet: Kavir region. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org/site/factsheet/kavir-region-iba-iran-islamic-republic-of on 23/02/2024.