Site description (2007 baseline):

Site location and context
The IBA covers the Saryyazy water reservoir in the Murgab river valley located 145 km to the south of Mary city, in Mary region. The reservoir became operative in 1959, and in 1978 it was considerably expanded and deepened. The IBA includes not only the water surface but also the shore zone with hygrophilous vegetation – reed and tamarix. The IBA is 19 km from south to north with a width of 5 km. The reservoir has a sandy shore, steep on the right (east) and sloping on the left (west). The southern part is shallow, the northern, at the dam, deep. Water levels depend on the flooding mode of the Murgab river. Usually water builds up in the winter and spring, and decreases during summer-autumn.

Key biodiversity
The avifauna of the Murgab valley, in particular around the Saryyazy reservoir, includes more than 200 species, including Pelecaniformes - 3, Anatinae - 11, birds of prey - 14, cranes - 1, Charadrii - 20, Laridae - 10, pigeons - 5, martins - 1, passerines - 95 species (Eminov, Kekilova, 1976).

Non-bird biodiversity: The fauna of the IBA includes 22 species of fish (Aliev et al, 1994), 2 species of amphibian (green toad and lake frog), 28 species of reptiles (Shammakov, 1981) and more than 50 species of mammal. Typical reptiles of the sandy shore are Agrionemys horsfieldi, Trapelus sanguinolentus, Phrynocephalus interscapularis, Eremias grammica, Psammophis lineolatus, Eryx miliaris, Colubridae and cobra (Naja oxiana). Mammals include Vulpes cana, Vulpes corsac, Meriones libycus, M. meridianus, Rhombomys opimus, Spermophilopsis leptodactylus, Hemiechinus auritus, Lepus tolai, jerboas, porcupine and wild boar. The flora is that of sandy-desert and tugai with saxaul, tamarix, Calligonum, Ephedra, Salsola richteri and other bushes.

Habitat and land use
The vicinities of the reservoir are used for low intensity grazing but it is expected that livestock numbers will grow in the future.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Overgrazing, illegal hunting and fishing.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
The Institute of Zoology of the Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan researched bird migration in the Murgab valley (near Imambaba) in the 1970s. But no specific studies have been carried out on the Saryyazy reservoir.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Saryyazy. Downloaded from on 24/09/2023.