email a friend
printable version
Location Mongolia, Uvs
Central coordinates 93o 26.00' East  48o 54.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A3, A4i, A4iii
Area 34,800 ha
Altitude 1,030 - 1,079m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

Site description Airag Lake is located in the Khyargas Lake Depression, and is an excellent example of the freshwater lakes of the Great Lakes Depression. The site comprises Airag Lake, the channel connecting it to nearby Khyargas Lake, the wet meadows of Zavkhan River delta, and the surrounding, sparsely vegetated, semi-desert landscape. Airag Lake is frozen from mid-November until April. The main land uses are livestock grazing and seasonal smallscale commercial fishing. Because of access difficulties, there is hardly any local tourism. The area is subject to overgrazing and pasture degradation leading to desertification. Although Airag Lake is under government protection, there are no management plans or protection measures in place at present. Hunting may be a threat at this site. For instance, in 2006, a juvenile Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus was hunted. Airag Lake is a Ramsar Site.

Key Biodiversity Several Globally Threatened species occur at the site, including Dalmatian Pelican (VU), White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala (EN), Swan Goose Anser cygnoides (EN), Pallas’s Fish-eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus (VU) and Relict Gull Larus relictus (VU). The site supports species typical of the Eurasian steppe and desert biome. The wetland regularly harbours more than 20,000 waterbirds. Congregatory waterbirds occurring in numbers exceeding 1% of their flyway populations are Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus, Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus, White Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia, White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala, Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea, Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina, Common Pochard Aythya ferina, Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus, Greater Sand Plover C. leschenaultii and Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus. The site also supports a colony of Asian Dowitcher Limnodromus semipalmatus (NT), and may trigger the A4i criterion for this species.

Non-bird biodiversity: Several nationally threatened fish species occur at the site, such as Mongolian Grayling Thymallus revirostris, Lake Osman Oreoleuciscus angusticephalus and Small Osman O.humilis. Some rare xerophytic plants grow in the surrounding semi-arid steppe. Rare mammals, such as Goitered Gazelle Gazella subgutturosa (VU), Mongolian Gazelle Procapra gutturosa and Thick-tailed Pygmy Jerboa Salpingotus crassicauda (DD) occur near to the lake.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Swan Goose Anser cygnoid breeding  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea 2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina 2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Common Pochard Aythya ferina 2004  present  A4i  Vulnerable 
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala breeding  2004  present  A1, A4i  Endangered 
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia 2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus breeding  2004  present  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Pallas's Fish-eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus breeding  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Charadrius alexandrinus 2004  present  A4i  Not Recognised 
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus 2004  present  A4i  Near Threatened 
Greater Sandplover Charadrius leschenaultii breeding  2004  present  A3, A4i  Least Concern 
Relict Gull Larus relictus breeding  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds unknown  2004  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Airag Lake National Park 34,800 is identical to site 34,800  
Ayrag Nuur Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 45,000 protected area contains site 34,800  
Khyargas Lake National Park 0 protected area overlaps with site 0  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland)   -
Desert   -

Protection status Partially protected by Khyargas Lake National Park

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Airag Lake. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife