Desert in the basin of the Lurg-i-Shuturan salt-lake (altitude c.1,350 m) at the eastern edge of Iran's Central Plateau. The site lies south of the village of Sahlabad, c.110 km south-south-east of Birjand. The 'lake' is an extensive bare saltflat, flooding only after exceptional storms, surrounded by a broad, sandy outwash plain with some areas of stabilized dunes. The main Mashad to Zahedan highway passes through the east of the site. There is excellent desertic steppe and sand-dune vegetation dominated by Zygophyllum, Ephedra, Artemisia and Tamarix, and adjacent hills support Artemisia steppe. There may be some livestock grazing, but the area is very remote, very sparsely populated and far from any substantial supplies of fresh water.
See box for key species. One of the best areas in Iran for Podoces pleskei; 13 birds (including several juveniles) were seen along 16 km of the Mashad-Zahedan highway in June 1973. The breeding avifauna is characteristic of Iran's central and eastern deserts, and includes Cursorius cursor, Pterocles coronatus, P. orientalis and Sylvia nana.
Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Sahlabad area. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 15/07/2020.