Exotic nature of Uzbekistan with its surprising contrasts, variety of flora and fauna, plenty of sunny days in a year and favorable climate attracts numerous numbers of ecological tourism. Now there are ten natural preserves in Uzbekistan, which accommodate a variety of unique landscapes from velvet sand to flowering oasis, from the Tugais River to the Alpine plains. It seems that Mother Nature created this land to carefully preserve and develop the rich natural gene pool, which in case of loss can never be recovered.
The road begins from the first step. From the very step that brings you into the temple of nature notwithstanding whether it is deserted Lake Aydarkul, lofty glacier Fedchenko or surviving coniferous-wood on the Pskem mountainside.
Badai-Tugai preserve was established in Karakalpak Autonomous Republic in 1971. It covers an area of 6,497 hectares and is situated in the lower reach of Amudarya, in the territories of Beruniy and Kegeyliy regions, on the right bank of the river.
Plenty of water and a variety of places for nesting attracts huge amount of birds to this area. Migrant birds such as spotted flycatcher, common redstart, black redstart, common redbreast, tawny pipit, rose-colored starling, rock sparrow, brisk, siskin and others inhabit the territory of the reserve. During winter time it is home for goshawk, East-Siberian hawk, marsh owl, black lark, different species of thrush, and grosbeak. From settled birds you can meet common kestrel, rock pigeons, laughing doves, horned owls, long-eared owls, crested larks, Bukhara great tit, common my-lady's-belt, and tree sparrows. The most important bird of the reserve is the Khiva pheasant. Kokdarya channels are inhabited by blue halcyons while tugais plains are inhabited by white-winged woodpeckers. Fauna found here include wild boar, jackal, tolai hare, pest rat, house mouse, muskrat, badger, fox, reed cat and hedgehogs. Bukhara DeerReservoirs are inhabited by lake frogs, water-snakes, grass by shaft serpents, and pallas' coluber. Spotty and cross-barred racers were found near the ancient fortress Djampirkala, which is the place of interest of the reserve.
Fauna of Amudarya and Kokdarya rivers (they wash the territory of the preserve) include about 15 species offish. The most important of them are shovel-nosed, Aral barbel, bream, zherekh, sazan, cat-fish, grass carp and silver carp.
In 1975 Bukhara Deer two does and a buck - was released into the preserve for the purpose of protection and breeding. Now their quantity is around 260 to 270.
Hissar preserve was established in 1994 as a result of Kizilsuy and Mirakin preserves' junction and its current territory occupies 80,986 hectares. It is a typical mountainous area with lots of canyons and karst caves, mountain streams, water-falls and small glaciers. The major flora of 18,002,400 meters height forest belt is Zerafshan conifer and of the higher territories - hemispherical conifer. Flora species of these coniferous woods include mostly broad-leaved trees such as Turkestani maple, barberry and brier. Besides these among the flora of the reserve are Semyonov maple, Bukhara almond-tree, common and Regel pear, Persian rowan-tree and others. At the height of 2,400 meters you can see coniferous elfin wood, high-mountain bunchgrass steppe and meadows. In general, the flora of the reserve includes 490 species of plants.
Common mammals that inhabit this territory are long-tailed marmot, tolai hare, porcupine, wolf, fox, white-clawed bear, snow leopard and others. It is also home for birds such as bearded vulture, Himalayan and black griffons, golden eagle, eagle-owl and many others. Hissar nature preserve is extremely interesting. In the South of the reserve, in the valley of the Kalasay River, you can see a well-known cave named after Amir Temur (Tamerla Cave) with an underground Lake, stalactites and stalagmites, as well as a rock with dinosaurs' footprints. In the North there are several small glaciers such as Severtsov and Batirbay.
The nature preserve was established in 1960 in order to protect unique coniferous forests inhabited by endemic flora and fauna. It covers an area of 10.5 hectares, of which 4,161 hectares are forests. The nature preserve is situated in the Djizak region of Uzbekistan. The flora includes over several hundred species, lots of which are used for household purposes and present important gene pool. They are: medicinal herbs, balsamiferous, tanniferous, tinctorial, ethereal, fruit and pabular plants.
Mountain-steppe belt of the reserve is inhabited by Turkestani agama, Pallas' coluber, desert lidless skink, glass-snake, coniferous tit, Himalayan tree creeper, blue-capped redstart, wolf, tolai hare and common mole-vole.
The forest belt is home to the green toad, lake frog and mamushi. Coniferous area is mostly rich in birds. The common birds you see here are: yellow-hammers, chanters, thrush, redstart, coniferous grosbeak, turtle-dove, ring-dove, Turkestani eagle-owl, and turkestani starling. The canyons of the water-falls are inhabited by bluebirds and blue tits; while the stony banks are inhabited by common and brown dippers, common sandpiper and wagtail; and lastly the rocks are inhabited by prey birds such as griffon vulture, black vulture and lammergeyers.
In the heart of the forest you can meet white-claw bear, Turkestani lynx, forest dormouse, Karuters field-vole, forest mouse and dwarf hamster; while on the uncovered cliffs and slide-rocks you meet stone-martens.
Zerafshan nature preserve was created in 1975 in the Samarkand region. Occupying 2,352 hectares it is located at the flood lands of Zerafshan River in Bulungur and Jambay regions of Samarkand. It is a valley and flood-tugai preserve. It covers a relatively small territory. The flora of the preserve is presented by Asiatic poplar, oleaster, sea-buckthorn, tamarisk, willow, woodreed, reed mace, reed-oleaster, motley grass and rush. Moreover among the flora are also apple-trees, common pears, common apricot-tree, peach, walnuts and vine.
Zerafshan nature preserve and encompassing its territory area is the only place where you can meet sea-buckthorn growing in the plain.
It has been a thousand years since flood-lands of Zerafshan River are inhabited by Zerafshan pheasant. Besides pheasants the fauna also includes halcyon, white-winged woodpecker, laughing dove, carrion-crow, rook, magpie, Bukhara tit, common starling, my-lady's-belt, crested lark, tree sparrow; hobby falcon, golden bee-eaters, scops-owl, and scrub robins which you can meet in summer; and during winter the reserve's territory is inhabited by white and common heron, buzzard, sparrow-hawk, grosbeak, hooded crow, wren, black-throated thrush and blackbird.
The fauna of the nature preserve is represented by hundreds of species of birds and six species of fish, of which the common ones are: tolai hare, badger, pea shrub, jackal, jungle cat, porcupine and married polecat.
Since 1995 the nature preserve enjoys the support of the National Centre on Ecological Researches (CNRS), Embassy of France in Uzbekistan, INTAS and J. and K. Macarthur's Funds, WWF and Holland Government, and European Initiatives on Large Herbivorous (LHI) for reproduction of Bukhara deer. From 1999, the whole work on deer reproduction has been supported within the project of Holland WWF. In 2005 the first group of Bukhara deer was given their freedom from open-air cages, where they lived before.
Kitab Geological Preserve, covering 5,378 hectares of Kitab region of Kashkadarya, was established in 1979. The government took under its protection the mountainous landscape that captures the life of 300-400 million years ago.
The nature preserve presents the harmony between unique geological monuments and rare and endangered species of flora and fauna.
In the administrative building of the reserve you can become the witness of the expositions of paleonthological recoveries and modern species of flora and fauna.
By 1978, within the whole geo-chronological area of the reserve, the geologists gathered information about 700 fossilized species of widespread groups such as stromatoporoideas, tabulate and helio- lithoidals, rugosis, brachiopods, moss animalcules, trilobites, seed shrimps, cystoideas and crinotropics, pelitipods, algae, blastoideas, goniatites, graptolites, fish and flora residues.
The flora includes 500 species of plants. The fauna counts 21species of mammals and 120 species of birds, of which golden eagle, bearded vulture, booted eagle and others are included in the Red Book of Uzbekistan.
The preserve was established in 1971 and is located along the riverside of Amudarya. It covers an area of 10,311 hectares, of which 5,144 are forests, 6,964 are sandy areas and 3,177 hectares are flood-land of the river. The forest part of the reserve is a natural plantation of trees. The flora counts 103 species of plants, including white saxaul, Euphratean poplar, willows, oleaster, tamarisk, adder's- spear, cirsomphalos and desert herbs.
On takyr soil you can meet bur, black saxaul and wormwood. Ethemers are rare to this area. Alluvial-bog soil is full of reeds.
Fauna is by far more diverse and typical to that of riverside valleys and sandy-desert areas. It includes 197 species of birds, 37 species of mammals and 23 species of reptiles. The reserve is also home for Bukhara deer. They are rarely seen in the sandy areas of the reserve, which are commonly inhabited by tolai hare, wild boars, foxes and wolves. Lots of birds can be met in this area, of which the most important and fascinating are Amudarya pheasants. The preserve is also rich in other birds such as marbled duck, golden eagle and black kite. Bays and channels are inhabited by different ducks. Many birds are migrants and arrive to the reserve for passing winter.
The preserve is home for steppe turtles, racers, boas and eared hedgehog, poisonous snakes such as lebetina viper. Also, Sazan, barbell, cat-fish, zherekh, and rudd are found in the Amudarya River.
Situated in the Djizak region (Farish, Khayas village), in the North mountainside of Nuratau, Nurata nature preserve was established to protect the population of rare species of fauna, Severtsov's sheep and important sorts of walnut.
The area of the reserve occupies 17,752 hectares, of which 2,529 hectares are forests. The nature preserve is crossed by ten not intermittent big and small streams.
The flora of the reserve is unique and counts 600 species of plants. The fauna is diverse and includes Pallas' coluber, mountain and red- banded racers, lebetina viper, copperhead snake, steppe turtles and steppe agama, glass-snake, Turkestani gecko, turkestani agama, long- legged skink and barred wolf snake. One migration route of birds crosses through Nuratau Mountains. The reserve is constantly inhabited by birds such as Indian starling, kekliks, golden eagles, white- headed griffons, black vulture, black chats and gray-necked buntings.
There are also a large number of mammals here too. The common ones include pea shrub, desert wolf, corsac fox, stone marten, porcupine, tolai-hare, boar, forest dormouse, long-legged hedgehog, red-tailed and great gerbil, Severtsov's jerboa and Severtsov's sheep.
In 1986, Kugitan government special nature reserve was joined up with Aral-Paygambar preserve and reorganized into Surkhan government nature preserve. It covers an area of 24,554 hectares, of which 9,284 are forests and located in the South-West branches of Hissar Mountains of Pamir-Alay mountainous system.
The flora here includes over 800 species of plants, of which tricuspid spurge, wild vine, Bukhara bean caper and others are unique to this area. There are 290 species of birds including Turkestani white and black storks, bearded vulture, golden eagle, Barbary falcon, serpent eagle, white-headed griffon, black vulture and others; 37 species of mammals of which markhoor, Bukhara argali, striped hyena, Bukhara deer and Turkestani lynx are under special protection. The rare reptiles of the area include gray lizard, Central-Asian cobra, barred wolf snake and Afghan winkles.
In the conservation zone of the reserve you can see cultural and historical monuments. In the south part of Baysuntau there is a well-known grotto Teshik-Tash, where they found the incomplete skeleton of the Neanderthal boy.
The reserve was established in 1947 and occupies 35.2 hectares. The territory of the reserve consists of two areas Bashkizilsay and Maydantal - separated from each other by mountain passes. Maydantal is hardly accessible and can be reached only by walking or horseback.
The flora of the reserve includes over 40 species of woody and shrubby plants. Part of them is endemic to the WestTien-Shan. Most of the reserve is covered by natural coniferous forests. There are two species of coniferous plants here: on the riverbanks birchwoods and among shrubby plants black currant, Turkestani mountain ash, Magaleb cherry-tree, pistachio-tree and others. From trees you can see Afghan poplar, willows, Semyonov maple, Caucasian hackberry, walnut, Severtsov apple-tree, cherry-plum, alycha and apricot-tree. The fauna consists of Siberian ibex, boars, roe deer, turkestani lynx, white-claw bears, foxes, stone martens, marmots, porcupines, ermines, Tien Shan sousliks and snow leopards.
The reserve is inhabited by the following birds: keklik, snowcock, partridge, black vulture, white-headed griffon, bearded vulture, and golden eagle. In the Mountain Rivers you can meet marinka, Amudarya loach, and Turkestani small catfish.