Search By:


Administrative Units


Ecological Units

Biodiversity Hotspots

Bio-geographic Zones


Coastal & Marine Eco-systems


Conservation Units

World Natural Heritage Sites

Biosphere Reserves

Tiger Conservation Units

Project Tiger

Project Elephant

Important Bird Areas

Ramsar Sites

Mountains of Central Asia Hotspot

The Mountains of Central Asia extend over and area of 863,362 sq km and consist of the Pamir and the Tien Shan mountain range. The vegetation type includes desert, semi-desert, steppes, patches of riverine woodland, grasses, herb and shrub communities, spruce forests, open juniper forests, alpine and subalpine meadows and tundra-like vegetation.

The region has 5,500 plant, 143 mammal, 489 bird, 59 reptile, seven amphibian and 27 freshwater fish species. The fruit and nut trees in this forest like walnut (Juglans regia), almonds (Amygdalus communis and A. bucharensis), pears (Pyrus korshinskyi and P. regelii), plums (Prunus sogdiana and P. ferganica) and cherry (Cerasus mahaleb), along with maples (Acer turkestanicum and A. semenovii) and a few Chinese walnuts (Juglans cathayana) are ancestors of the domestic varieties. Also found are wild onion species including the rare Allium pskemense. The region is well known for 16 endemic species of tulips, especially the famous red Greig's tulip (Tulipa greigii).
None of the birds found here are endemics, but the region is a stronghold for birds of prey like the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), the imperial eagle (A. heliaca), steppe eagle (A. rapax), booted eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus), lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus), black vulture (Aegypius monachus), Eurasian griffon (Gyps fulvus), Himalayan griffon (G. himalayensis), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) and saker falcon (F. cherrug).

Mammalian inhabitants include the endemics argali wild sheep (Ovis ammon), Menzibier's marmot (Marmota menzbieri), Ili pika (Ochotona iliensis), the Pamir shrew (Sorex bucharensis) and the Alai mole vole (Ellobius alaicus). The snow leopard (Uncia uncia) and Saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) are other species that occur here. The skink, Asymblepharus alaicus, is the only endemic reptile found here. Of the seven amphibians four are endemic while the Kugitang blind cave fish (Troglocobitis starostini) is found only in a small area of the Kugitang mountains. Among invertebrates 11 of the 26 species of Apollo butterflies and 87 mollusks are endemic.

The mountains have been exploited for grazing, timber, food and fuel. Habitat destruction, poaching, collection of plants, fires, cutting trees for fuelwood, construction of roads, irrigation and recreational facilities and mining are the different threats faced by this hotspot.

Currently, only 7% or 59,563 sq km of the region is protected. International conservation organisations active in the region include Global Environment Facility, World Wide Fund for Nature, International Snow Leopard Trust, SABU and Fauna and Flora International.

[The information has been sourced from the Conservation International website on biodiversity hotspots ( Accessed in February 2008.]

ATREE, Tel: 91-80-23530069, 91-80-23533942