A portion of the Kopet Dagh Mountains on the Turkmenistan border in northern Khorasan, 40 km north-north-east of Shirvan, extending from the rolling plains and semi-arid foothills in the south to the international boundary running along the crest of the mountains. The climate is extreme continental, with hot dry summers and very cold winters. Principal habitats include rolling plains with Artemisia steppe and some dry wheat cultivation (1,800-1,950 m), mixed deciduous scrub with herbaceous ground cover and a scattering of Juniperus (c.2,000 m), mature Juniperus forest with a mixture of other shrubs on steep limestone mountain-sides (1,800-2,500 m) and mountain summits and high ridges with good montane steppe (2,400-2,987 m). Snow patches linger until at least the end of June. The many springs and streams support small patches of lush grassland. The Juniperus forests are among the finest in Iran, with some exceptionally large trees.
See box for key species. The breeding birds include species characteristic of the montane steppes, Juniperus forests and high mountain ranges of north-east Iran. This is one of the few areas where Mycerobas carnipes is known in Iran, and the only locality where Emberiza stewarti has been recorded (found in song in 1973, and may breed). Other notable species include Melanocorypha bimaculata, Sylvia hortensis, Montifringilla nivalis and Emberiza buchanani. At least 87 species have been recorded in the reserve.
Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Canis lupus (V), Ursus arctos (rare), Caracal caracal (rare), Panthera pardus (rare), Capra hircus aegagrus (rare) and Ovis ammon (rare).
Data-sheet compiled by Dr D. A. Scott, reviewed by Dept of Environment.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Sarani. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 18/09/2021.