State Committee on environment conservation and forestry of the Republic of Tajikistan
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The reserve situated in the undercurrent of Vakhsh River between Pyandj and Kafirnighan rivers at the board of Afghanistan. Its territory elongated for the 40 kms from south-west to north-east. Its relief has the shape of valley floodplain terrace with falls which contain many cutoff lakes, formed during meandering of Vakhsh River
Climate of the reserve is sharply continental and dry. During the winter the air masses of temperate latitudes and in summer – tropical are prevalent. The average annual temperature makes + 14-17degrees, the temperature of coldest month (January) + 2-0 degrees, the hottest (July) + 28-32 degrees. Duration of the frost-free period is 250-310 days, and with the temperature more than +10° C – 200-250 days.
Summer begins in the May and continues up to the middle of September. In that period the thermal depression prevails. The maximal temperature in the July sometimes reaches + 46-48 degrees. Winter is soft and brief. That is typical for zone of dry tropics. Number of days with negative temperatures ????? ???? ? ?????????????? ????????????? varies from 26 to 83.
Distribution of precipitation during the year is very irregular. Up to 70 % of them fall in winter and spring months usually in the form of rain. Annual amount of precipitation usually does not exceed 200 mm.
Hydrological network of the reserve formed by Pyandj and Vakhsh Rivers and their inflows. Main territory of the reserve connected with Vakhsh which having glacial and snow feeding. In the present time the drainage of the Vakhsh regulated by hydraulic works of Nurek and Baypazinskaya hydropower stations. Tugai supported only by surface and ground waters.
In the lowers of Vakhsh there are a lot of mortlakes. Their maximal deepness rarely exceeds 5-6 meters and usual it is 1-2 meters. Within the reserve there are about 40 of such lakes. They are overgrown with dense water vegetation. Waters of the most mortlakes mineralized by from 1,92 to 4,67 g/l. Old intermittent lakes level of mineralization is greatly high.
The following ecosystems are allocated within the territory of the reserve.
Ecosystem of semi-desert landscape represented within the hilly range of Kashkakum mountain massif. This is lowland valley having very hot belt of desert ephemeral vegetation and developing in spring and winter time, and desert subshrubs vegetating in summer. The main background determining the ephemeral vegetation is fowl grass and sedge plantamong Poa bulbosa and Carex pachystilis.
The background species of fauna ecosystems are skink gecko, grey giant lizard, saw-scaled viper, thick-knee, thin footed ground squirrel, chick-weed, gazelle.
Ecosystem of submountain low grassed semisavans and shibliak widespread on Buritau eminence and in Hodja-Kaziyon mountains. It represented mainly by ephemeretum Aegilops, barleys from Hordeum spontaneum and H.bulbosum. Most dominated plants are vulpies, boons, annual astragalus, fenugreek and ephemeroids: Bukhara empty-headed (Anemone bucharica) and hungerweed (Ranunculus leptorrhynchus and R.tenuilobus).
Earlier the overstory was occupied by shibliak and xerophilous sparse growth of trees from pistachio (Pistacia vera), almond (Amygdalus spinosissima) and others. At the present time sparse growth of pistachio covers small territory of the reserve, however these forests could be reforested.
Background species of fauna represented by steppe agama, longlegged skink, Reedling, midasian cobra, runners, crested skylark, wheatears, fox, wolf, Urial.
Ecosystem of tugai complex widespread in the flood-land of rivers prevailing by Populus pruinosa and Elaeagnus angustifolia tugai, which alternated with bushes of giant grasses of reeds (Phragmites communis), Erianthus ravennae, sugar-cane (Saccharum spontaneum) widespread in lowerings.
Background species of fauna represented Vipera lebetina turanica, green toad, pheasant, magpie, ox-eye, whitefly woodpecker, Remiz pendulinus, porcupine, jackal, bukhara deer, cane cat, striped hyena.
Ecosystem of water reservoirs and wetlands of the reserve widespread along Vakhsh and Pyandj Rivers and numerous lakes located in flood lands of their lower territories. Mortlakes are densely overgrown by water vegetation: Myriophyllum L. sp., different species of pondweed, hornwort, and buckwheat and somewhere by naiad. Specific composition of fishes is relatively poor and represented exclusively by carp species: sazan, tukestan and aral barbel, bukhara roach, ?lburnus fasciatus, turkestan gudgeon, Aspiolucius esocinus Kessler and sheat-fish. Vahsh inhabited by big and small Pseudoscaphirhynchus fedtschenkoi, aral barbell and Aspiolucius esocinus Kessler.
In the lakes of reserve nutria (Myocastor coypus) could be met, brought here in autumn 1949. Midasian otter also found here. Grass-snake are very usual here. Lakes of the reserve are the place of wintering for more than 50 species of birds, coming here from West Siberia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.