|Most recent IBA monitoring assessment|
|Year of assessment||Threat score (pressure)||Condition score (state)||Action score (response)|
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The Pliocene-aged Quaternary Ustyurt Plateau is situated in the extensive area between the Caspian and Aral Seas and is one of the most ancient dry lands of Central Asia. There is a varied relief and an absence of watercourses and open freshwater. Ustyurt is one of the most arid and extreme areas where the animal life is practically at breaking point. The north of Ustyurt is located in a sub-band of northern deserts which receive water in the form of winter and early spring precipitation. The southern part of the plateau is extremely arid and waterless. The proposed IBA is located 30-40 km to the east of Churuk well.
On the Ustyurt Plateau can be found a range of xerophilous bird species, typical of the northern variant of the loamy deserts of Central Asia. Especially numerous are: Melanocorypha leucoptera, Calandrella rufescens, Calandrella cinerea and Galerida cristata. Oenanthe finschii, Oenanthe deserti and Oenanthe isabellina all breed. Typical predators include Buteo rufinus, Bubo bubo and Athene noctua. Sylvia nana and Hippolais languida are numerous. Between 1970-1980 Aquila nipalensis regularly nested but now its current situation is unknown. Formerly there were large numbers of saiga and a regular legal and illegal trade in keeping large predators such as Aegypius monachus, Haliaeetus albicilla, Aquila heliасa, Aquila chrysaetos, Aquila nipalensis and others. The current situation on this point is also unclear.
Non-bird biodiversity: Saiga tatarica breeds, and Gazella subgutturosa is regularly observed. The plateau has a fauna typical of the northern deserts, especially rodents: Spermophilus pygmaeus, Allactaga major, Pygeretmus platyurus, Allactaga saltator and Stylodipus telum. There is also probably a new undescribed species of Salpingotus heptneri.
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Saiga Nature Sanctuary. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/09/2022.