The Kurtusuv - Khovudan IBA is situated 10 km to the south of Ashgabat, and combines a strict protection area (19,059 hectares) with the buffer zone of the Kopetdag state reserve (23,000 hectares). The area of the IBA constitutes 15.1% of the total area of the Central Kopetdag (279,100 hectares). The site covers a group of canyons of various length (from 7 to 15 km), mainly with a northeast orientation.
The avifauna includes 177 species (13 orders, 31 families). Nesting birds – 97 species, non-migratory – 49 species, passage-nesting – 48 species, migratory – 17 species, wintering birds – 7 species and passage – 6 species. Passeriformes (16 families, 49 genus, 81 species) and Falconiformes (2 families, 12 genus and 22 species) are most representative in terms of the number of species.
The different habitats (semidesert, tugai, stony-rocky, etc.) of the IBA support numerous communities of birds which reflect the original avifauna of the Central Kopetdag (Mishenko, 1986).
The site supports several nesting species listed in the Red List of IUCN (2004): Aegypius monachus, Falco naumanni plus species listed in the Red Data Book of Turkmenistan (1999): Circaetus gallicus, Aquila chrysaetos, Falco peregrinus, Gypaetus barbatus and Bubo bubo. Several of these species conform to the criterion А1.
Criterion А3 applies for biome-restricted species (Biome CA 06): Ammoperdix griseogularis, Oenanthe finschii, Oenanthe picata, Emberiza buchanani and Sitta tephronota; (Biome CA 04b): Columba eversmanni, Ammomanes deserti, Hippolais rama, Scotocerca inquieta, Rhodospiza obsoleta, Emberiza bruniceps and Sylvia nana. Biome CA05 - Tichodroma muraria and Mycerobas carnipes also occur.
Aquila nipalensis, Aquila heliaca, Pterocles orientalis, Oenanthe deserti and Lanius excubitor occur on passage.
Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals are represented by more than 29 species (Zykov, Korshunov, 1986; Mammals of Turkmenistan, 1995). Hyaena hyaena, Panthera pardus, Ovis vignei and Capra aegagrus are listed in the Red Data Book of Turkmenistan (1999).
Amphibians: Bufo viridis turanensis; reptiles - 26 species.
The flora of the IBA is represented by 886 species (412 genus and 74 families).
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Part of the IBA includes the Kopetdag reserve. Anthropogenic pressures include overgrazing, illegal hunting and firewood collection, there is also climate change and severe weather.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
There are two recent projects concerned with the problems of this region:
- 2003-2006 - Project GEF-UNEP-WWF « Projecting ECONET for long-term biodiversity protection » (WWF - the executive organization, the partner - the Ministry of Nature Protection)
- 2003-2005 - Project UNDP « Improvement of protected areas system in
Turkmenistan (ECONET) » (the executive organization - the Ministry of Nature Protection).
The IBA completely includes two protected areas (Babazo and Aselma; 19,059 hectares) plus a protection zone of 23,000 hectares of the Kopetdag reserve. Forestry management in the reserve ceased in 1979.