An alluvial plain extending inland from the Caspian Sea. Predominantly dry semi-desert steppe with Artemisia and a high diversity of grasses. Canals run across the steppe and there are also saline lakes. The Shorgel lakes, with their rich aquatic vegetation, are fed by irrigation water. Part (c.3,500 ha) of this wetland lies within the reserve, the remainder extending into a contiguous Zakaznik.
Among breeding birds at this IBA are Ardea purpurea, Tadorna ferruginea, T. tadorna, Netta rufina, Circus aeruginosus, Francolinus francolinus, Burhinus oedicnemus, Charadrius alexandrinus and Gelochelidon nilotica. Species of global conservation concern that do not meet IBA criteria (all observed in winter): Anser erythropus (27 in 1996), Aegypius monachus, Haliaeetus albicilla, Aquila heliaca. Other wintering birds include Phoenicopterus ruber (200-300), also wildfowl (Cygnus cygnus and others), Fulica atra, etc. Report of 20,000-35,000 wintering wildfowl, while 150,000-200,000 stage at the site in autumn. Aquila nipalensis also occurs on passage.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The chief threats are grazing by sheep (100,000 sheep graze in the reserve legally, a condition under which the reserve was gazetted) and, more recently, cattle, leading to destruction of goose pastures, continuing oil extraction and fishing (fishermen's camps are located within the Zapovednik and the Zakaznik), pollution of some lakes by pesticides and disturbance by shepherds. The oil-drilling operation should be isolated from the reserve. Shirvan Reserve (Zapovednik) was established in 1969 partly within the Byandovan Zakaznik, the aim being to give better protection to the Goitred Gazelle Gazella subgutturosa. Some new facilities have been built and the site has considerable education potential.
National High International None26,000 ha of IBA covered by Zapovednik (Shirvan goryhy, 26,000 ha). Zakaznik of 22,000 ha adjacent.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Shorgel lakes/Shirvan reserve. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 28/09/2020.