Lower Amudarya State Biosphere Reserve
SSG Oltinsay, Beruni District, 230206, Republic of Karakalpakstan

+ (998 97) 220-95-20

+ (998 61) 601-38-46


Fauna of the Lower Amudarya state biosphere reserve

The fauna of the biosphere reserve is typical of the tugai forests of the lower Amudarya.  

Insects and other invertebrates. Although the species diversity in this group of animals is far greater than that of the vertebrates in the reserve, it has not received any comprehensive study so far. This fact may draw the interest of biologists and other specialists in natural sciences.

Fish. The waters of the Amudarya and Kokdarya forming the boundaries of the biosphere reserve are homes for a number of fish species such as Asp, Pike Asp, Aral Barbel, Wels Catfish, Bream, Sablefish, Sharpray, Grass Carp, Silver Carp and some others. Large and Small Amu Darya Shovelnose Sturgeons occur in the Amudarya rapids, near sandbanks. Both species are included in the Red Data Book of Uzbekistan (2009) and IUCN Red List as ‘critically endangered.’         

Reptiles and amphibians. The biosphere reserve’s amphibian fauna consists of only two species, Green Toad and Marsh Frog. The commonest reptiles occurring in the outskirts of the tugai are Horsefield’s Central Asian Tortoise and Steppe Agama. Desert Lidless Skink is common in thickets where you can become aware of its presence by a sound it produces running among fallen leaves. It moves quite fast and tends to hide within piles of fallen brushwood when chased. In twilight, you can observe Caspian Rock Gecko hunting in the ruins of old wattle-and-daub huts. Rapid Fringe-Toed Lizard and Striped Racerunner are also typical inhabitants of the biosphere reserve. Snakes are not so abundant as lizards. Dice snake can be encountered among stones and tree roots on the bank of the Kokdarya, while Steppe Ribbon Snake hides in willow coppices. Pallas’s Coluber lives amid the grass carpeting the tugai forest. Two other animals from this suborder – Diadem and Northern Wolf Snakes – live in the walls of the medieval fortress Janpyk-kala.

Diadem snakePhoto: Ernest Kurtveliev


Masked wagtailPhoto: Maria Gritsina

Gull-billed ternPhoto: Maria Gritsina

Birds form the largest group of vertebrates in the biosphere reserve. The area offers a wide diversity of natural landscapes suitable for nesting and breeding: trees, shrubs, grass and the steep banks and shoals of the Amudarya. Migratory birds use the tugai forest to rest and feed. Of the bird species recorded in the reserve, 15 are included in the Red Data Book of Uzbekistan. The birds are divided into four groups according to how they use the territory of the biosphere reserve. They are: summer residents, which are represented by Ruddy Shelduck, Night Heron, Mallard, Shikra, Stone Curlew, White-Tailed Plover, Black-Winged Stilt, Common, Gull-billed and Little Terns, Striated Scops Owl, Kingfisher, European and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, Eurasian Roller, Hoopoe, Northern Swift, Sand Martin, Golden Oriole, White-crowned Penduline Tit, Barn Swallow, Nightingale, Upcher’s and Southern Booted Warblers and others); permanent residents – White-winged Pheasant, Rock Dove, Laughing Turtle Dove, Little Owl, Long-Eared Owl, White-Winged Spotted Woodpecker, Black-Billed Magpie, Bokhara Great Tit, Indian Myna, Tree Sparrow and others; winter residents18 species; and transients – 18 species.

White-winged Woodpecker Photo: Ernest Kurtveliev

Common OystercatcherPhoto: Maria Gritsina


In winter you can see some species migrating from more northerly areas, such as Merlin, Northern Goshawk, Common Buzzard, Black and Horned Larks, Fieldfare, Red-Winged Thrush, Black-Throated Thrush, Bohemian Waxwing, Long-Tailed Tit, Hawfinch and others.         

Sometimes, when the winter is very harsh, Chukar Partridge, a typical dweller of sky islands, comes there from the Sultanuizdag Range.

White-Winged Pheasant is, no doubt, one of the pearls of the biosphere reserve. This is a sedentary bird occurring throughout the protected area. In winter the birds concentrate in oleaster populations, in spring, summer and autumn – in the tugai. The pheasants begin breeding in late March-early April.

White-winged pheasantPhoto: Maria Gritsina


Mammals. The insectivores of the reserve are represented by Long-Eared Hedgehog and Piebald Shrew. The order Chiroptera includes Whiskered Bat, Common Pipistrelle and Particoloured Bat, while Tolai Hare represents the lagomorphs. The commonest rodents inhabiting the area are Short-Tailed Bandicoot Rat, House Mouse and Midday Gerbil. The predators in the biosphere reserve are Golden Jackal hiding in barely passable tugai thickets and Badger living amid trees and shrubs. The forest areas near the river banks are inhabited by Jungle and Steppe Cats.            

The ungulates are represented in the biosphere reserve by two species – wild boar and Bukhara Red Deer. Boars can be found only deep inside the tugai forest, where they feed on the roots of reed, reedmace and oleaster fruit in autumn. However, real pride of the Lower Amudarya Biosphere Reserve is Bukhara Red Deer, an endemic subspecies of Red Deer that once inhabited the valleys of the Amudarya, Syrdarya and Zeravshan Rivers. The population of this animal was heavily damaged by uncontrolled hunting, which brought it to the brink of extinction in the early 1970s. One of the first steps to restore the endangered species in Uzbekistan was to reintroduce the deer in the Badai-Tugai Nature Reserve. The first reintroduction activities were carried out in May 1976 by the late V. P. Lim, the reserve’s first director. Three and a little later nine individuals of Bukhara Red Deer were brought from the Ramit Reserve in Tajikistan. All the animals survived and gave offspring. In 1981-1982 they were released into the wild from their enclosures. In 2010 the deer population comprised 612 individuals. They began to spread into the neighbouring riparian forests, Tallyk-tugai, Sherimbet-tugai and others. Furthermore, 23 deer are kept now in the biosphere reserve’s nursery. The WWF international mission valued the effort and described the growth of the Bukhara Red Deer population in the biosphere reserve as incredible. Currently, the Lower Amudarya State Biosphere Reserve boasts the largest Bukhara Red Deer population in Uzbekistan.

Bukhara deerPhoto: Shukhrat Tursunov

Golden jackalPhoto: Ernest Kurtveliev