The IBA is situated in northern Tajikistan in the inter-mountain depression of the western part of the Fergana valley. Kayrakkum Reservoir is located in the Syrdarya river valley within Tajikistan. The valley is about 300 km in length from east to west and 30-40 km wide in some places.
The Syrdarya river divides the IBA into right and left bank sections.
The right bank is a semi-desert plain more than 160 km in length, not more than 2 km wide between the Mogoltau foothills and river but 15-30 km wide in the east. The surface of the plain is deeply cut by mudflows in some places. Since the Kayrakkum Reservoir was built the semi-desert zone of the right bank of the Syrdarya River has been heavily developed and now presents a typical anthropogenic landscape. Species such as Buteo rufinus, Otis tarda, Chlamydotis undulata, Pterocles orientalis, Pterocles alchata and others typical for this area lost their natural habitats, sharply decreased in number and are presently under threat of total disappearance in Tajikistan.
On the left bank the plain turns into the hilly foothills of the Turkestan range. The littoral zone is also strongly developed.
There is one hydroelectric power station (Kayrakkum) on the Syrdarya river.
The climate is strongly continental, arid.
There is a very strong wind in the narrow entrance to the Fergana valley, with a speed of 24m/sec or more.
Kayrakkum Reservoir was built in 1956 on an upper branch of the Syrdarya river 35-40 km to the west of the river's exit from the Fergana inter-mountain trough. According to data of the Central Asian expedition (Ivanov, 1960) the water surface area is 523 square km, length is 56 km, maximum width is 15 km, max depth near the dam is 25m, the average depth is 8 m.
The shoreline is slightly indented. There are sandy semi-desert and Kayrakkum sands on the right bank of the reservoir. Kayrakkum sands are separated by the low mountains Akbeltau, Akchelty and Supetau. There are Kanibadam and Hudjand anthropogenic landscapes to the west and east along the left bank of the reservoir. At present the head of the reservoir is silted for a distance of 10-15 km. This process is connected with the building of the Tahtagul hydroelectric power station on the Naryn River in Kyrgyzstan. Silted areas of the Kanibadam massif with many lakes and shallows, tamarisk, oleaster, poplar thickets and reeds serve as a wintering place for many thousands of Anseriformes, Pelicaniiformes, Charadriiformes and Falconiformes.
248 species of bird have been recorded in the IBA. Among them 46 species are residents (18.55% of the total). Many residents makes minor migrations within breeding areas in the IBA. There are 144 nesting species (58.06% of the avifauna of the IBA). Birds start to arrive at the end of February/March. The main portion of nesting birds arrive in the second half of April and May. Autumn migration begins in the middle of August. Wintering birds are represented by 40 species (16.13% of the avifauna). The remaining 7.26% are migrants and vagrants.
Birds occupy different biotopes in the breeding season. There are 18 species on water bodies. 47 species are recorded in the littoral and anthropogenic zones at altitudes of 300 to 900 m above sea level. The foothills and mountain semi-desert zone is a habitat for 31 species. Passerines form a large proportion of species and can be found everywhere.
Typical migratory birds include: Circus cyaneus, Circus macrourus, Aquila nipalensis, Aquila heliaca, Falco naumanni, Coturnix coturnix, Grus grus, Grus virgo, Otis tarda, Chlamydotis undulata, Motacilla citreola, Luscinia svecica, Lanius collurio and Lanius schach.
Typical breeding birds include: Milvus migrans, Buteo rufinus, Hieraaetus pennatus, Falco tinnunculus, Falco cherrug, Falco pelegrinoides, Falco peregrinus, Burhinus oedicnemus, Pterocles orientalis, Otus scops, Athene noctua, Merops apiaster, Coracias garrulus, Upupa epops, Galerida cristata, Melanocorypha calandra, Melanocorypha bimaculata, Alauda arvensis, Riparia riparia, Hirundo rustica, Hirundo daurica, Anthus campestris, Motacilla personata, Phoenicurus ochruros, Saxicola torquata, Saxicola caprata and Oenanthe isabellina.
There are large flocks of Corvus monedula, Corvus frugilegus and Corvus cornix every year during spring and autumn migration.
Corvus corax is resident.
There is a migration flyway along the Syrdarya river valley, with many Corvidae, Sturnidae, Turdidae, Acrocephalus and Phylloscopus warblers. Sparrows are obeserved migrating in early December. Passer montanus is resident.
Wintering birds include: Tachybaptus ruficollis, Podiceps cristatus, Phalacrocorax carbo, Phalacrocorax pygmaeus, Ergetta alba, Ergetta garzetta, Ardea cinerea, Ciconia ciconia, Anser anser, Tadorna ferruginea, Anas penelope, Anas strepera, Anas crecca, Anas platyrhynchos, Anas acuta, Anas clypeta, Aythya ferina, Aythya fuligula, Circus aeruginosus, Circus cyaneus, Circus macrourus, Buteo buteo, Hieraaetus pennatus, Falco tinnunculus, Falco vespertinus, Falco columbaris, Gallinula choropus, Fulica atra, Vanellus vanellus, Tringa totanus, Tringa stagnatilis, Tringa ochropus, Larus ichthyaetus, Larus ridibundus, Larus cachinnans, Syrrhaptes paradoxus, Alcedo atthis, Turdus atrogularis, Corvus frugilegus, Corvus corone, Sturnus vulgaris, Acridotheres tristis, Fringilla coelebs and Emberiza schoeniclus.
Non-bird biodiversity: Fish: there are 34 species of fish, 13 of them are marketable - Esox lucius, Rutilus rutilus, Scardinius erythrophthalmus, Aspius aspius, Barbus brachycephalus, Barbus barbus, Schizothorax intermedius, Abramis brama, Abramis sapa, Capoetobrama kuschakewitschi, Pelecus cultratus, Cyprinus carpio and Silurus glanis.
Pseudoscaphirhynchus fedtschenkoi has not been found for the last 15-20 years. Acipenser nudiventris also hasn't been recorded for the last 40-50 years in the Syrdarya river.
Amphibia: Bufo viridis occurs on the plains of the Syrdarya river valley up to the upper border of the forest-steppe zone, and sometimes to the alpine meadows. Rana ridibunda inhabits all freshwater bodies, marshlands, irrigation canals and rice fields.
Reptiles: there are 11 species of snakes, 17 species of lizards and 1 species of tortoise. Testudo horsfieldi inhabits the clayey sandy semi-deserts, hilly foothills, and sometimes mountains up to 1,200 m above sea level. As a result of the intensive development of the foothills zone for cereal production the number of Testudo horsfieldi is reduced everywhere. Varanus griseus is an inhabitant of sand dunes and pebble hills in semi-deserts. Vipera lebetina and Naja oxiana both occur.
Mammals: Erinaceus (Hemiechinus) auritus is a typical inhabitant of semi-deserts, Crocidura leucodon keeps to places with sparse wood-shrub vegetation. Rodentia are represented by 11 species. Citellus relictus and Meriones tamariscinus occur in semi-deserts. Hystrix leucura also occurs. Many rodents and Leporidae serve as a food for birds of prey and predatory mammals. Carnivora include Canis lupus, Canis aureus, Vulpes vulpes, Meles meles, Lutra lutra, Mustela nivalis and Felis chaus. Artiodactyla include Sus scrofa and Gazella subgutturosa, Ovis orientalis severtzovi and Cervus elaphus bactrianus were common in the past but do not occur at present.
Vegetation: there are more than 3,000 species of plant recorded.
Littoral and anthropogenic zones are represented by cultivar plants, reed, cattail, sedge and others. There is a zone of desert ephemeral vegetation. Spring ephemeral vegetation is very rich and beautiful. There are Poplar forests (tugay), dominated by Populus pruinosa, and thickets of tall grasses (Phragmites australis, Saccharum spontaneum, different species of Typha) in the river floodlands.
In the foothills ephemeral vegetation is represented by couch grass. There are associations of Artemisia mogoltavica (A. cina) and a rich layer of ephemerals in spring (mainly Poa bulbosa, Carex pachystylis, Carex physodes, Anisantha tectorum) on pit-run fine soil. Convolvulus hamadae (C. subsericeus) dominates on sandy soils.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
At present the tugay vegetation ocurs as separate patches and is located on inaccessible islands in the eastern part of the Kayrakkum Reservoir. As a result of the felling of Populus pruinosa, oleaster and cattle grazing the tugay became degraded and there are now only bushes of Tamarix ramosissima and Halimodendron halodendron in their place. There are tamarisk bushes on the plain and on salty and hilly sands. No large bushes of saxaul have been preserved on the right bank of the Syrdarya.
A large part of the area is used as autumn-winter pastures or is ploughed. Original vegetation remains only in places without water.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Tajikistan takes part in the international monitoring of waterfowl with the support of the Russian programme of Wetlands International. Winter counts of waterfowl were carried out in 2004-2006. In January 2004 39,746 individuals were recorded, in January 2005 - 35,200, and in January 2006 - 40,341.
There is a "Complex programme on biodiversity conservation and wise use of resources of the Syrdarya river basin" for 2005-2010 elaborated by the Sogd Regional Committee of Environment Protection and Forestry together with the Institute of Zoology and Parasitology of the Tajik Academy of Sciences.
Ichthyologists stocked the Kayrakkum Reservoir with valuable commercial species of fish. Kayrakkum spawning/rearing farm raised yearlings of commercial fish and released them into Kayrakkum Reservoir. This way they maintain populations of food fish at a stable level and don't undermine natural resources.
The "Association of Nature Lovers" together with local subdivisions of the Sogd Committee of Environment Protection and Forestry of the Republic of Tajikistan annually hold "The day of birds", "The day of Earth" etc which attracts specialists from the Academy of Sciences, Public Ecology Council, schoolchildren, students and local people.
The Syrdarya State zakaznik was created to save the biodiversity of the Syrdarya river basin in Tajikistan. Nature conservation measures and good forage reserves will maintain the rich summer avifauna and more than 40 species of wintering waterbirds arriving at the end of August and September and leaving to breed in February, March and April.
Habitat and land use
Farhad and Kayrakkum hydroelectric power stations with associated water reservoirs were built in the middle of the 20th century. Building of two dams has reduced the speed of the river's current between Farhad and Kayrakkum Resevoirs, and spring and summer floods have stopped. The number of invertebrates and algae which serve as food for fish and waterfowl increased. After the stabilization of the reservoirs the number of waterfowl rose sharply. Water from Kayrakkum Reservoir is used for electricity generation and irrigating farmland in north Tajikistan and adjacent Uzbekistan. Specialists from the Institute of Zoology and Parasitology of Tajikistan determine the size of industrial fish catch (commercial production) in order to maintain the fish supply of the reservoir.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Kayrakkum Reservoir. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 26/05/2020.