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Location Kazakhstan, Akmola region
Central coordinates 69o 14.00' East  50o 25.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A3, A4i, A4iii
Area 258,963 ha
Altitude 304 - 329m
Year of IBA assessment 2006

Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan (Affiliate)

Site description Akmola Region, Korgalzhyn district, nearest town Korgalzhyno (straight distance 25 km east, 5,350 inhabitants), capital Astana 145 km North East (about 600,000 inhabitants). The IBA includes the Tengiz-Korgalzhyn system of lakes which are representative examples of a shallow lake system with a mix of fresh, salty and brackish waterbodies characteristic of the north of Kazakhstan. The largest lakes are Tengiz, Isei, Sultankeldy and Asaubalyk. The Tengiz-Korgalzhyn Lake system is situated in the strong continental climate zone, still influenced by the Atlantic. Very cold winters and hot summers, with an average precipitation of only 267 mm falling mainly in summer, are typical. The average temperature in January is –17°C (winter min. -45°C) and in June it is +20°C (summer max. 41.5°C). The number of days with an average temperature below zero is 150 per year. The Korgalzhyn lakes are basically the vast delta areas of the Nura and Kulanuptes rivers forming a series of fresh and brackish water lakes. They have an average depth of only 1.6 meters (range 0.5 to 2.5m) and an area of 47,100 ha. The water level is stabilized due to dams in the reserve. Tengiz Lake is the largest lake in the Kazakh steppe zone and its size varies between 113,600 to 159,000 hectares depending on water supply. It has a maximum depth of 6.7 metres and a salt content between 22 and 127 g/litre. Two overlapping cycles of high and low water levels have been observed in the last century, being 7 and 40 years long. Once every 100 years Lake Tengiz dries out almost completely for one or two years. The Rivers Nura and Kulanuptes, plus precipitation falling on the surrounding 200,000 ha of land and waterbodies, contribute water to the lake system. It has no outflow but due to its vast surface area and shallowness evaporation is very high. The River Nura is the main contributor (approximately 50%). Even though some water is used for irrigation and industrial use, water from the Irtysh-Karaganda channel bringing drinking water to Karaganda compensates for losses from the River Nura and the lake system remains in a near natural state. Most of the lakes have extensive reedbeds but the great salt Lake Tengiz has mostly open shores without tall vegetation. The relief of the area varies little with a minimum at Lake Tengiz (304 m a.s.l) and a maximum of 329 m a.s.l in the east of the reserve. It is situated in the zone of immature chestnut soils formed from alluvial-deluvial loams. Solonez and Solontshak soils are dominant in the depressions of the Tengiz-Korgalzhyn lake system. In the west and south of the protected area the so called Kazak Rolling Hills are found - the typical steppe formations of flat plains. The site is proposed following the borders of the nature reserve with a 2 kilometre wide buffer zone. This consists of a 258,920 ha Core Zone (current area of the Nature Reserve), plus 94,421 ha of the Buffer Zone (2 km around the site), giving a total of 353,341 ha. The reserve border generally follows the shoreline of the Tengiz-Korgalzhin Lake system but in the north-east follows the recently added steppe area so that the peninsula between the Tengiz and Korgalzhin Lake system is included in the nature reserve.

Key Biodiversity The 335 bird species recorded at the site contain 112 species of waterfowl and waders breeding, moulting or resting (87% recorded of the whole of Kazakhstan).

Non-bird biodiversity: Lake Tengiz is situated in the Kazakh Steppe in the so called short grass steppe. The short grass steppe is characterized by the Sheep Fescue species (Festuca sulcata) and the aster species Galatella tatarica and villosa. Also characteristic of these steppes are small shrubs of Spirea hypericifolia and species of ephemeral bulb species such as Adonis wolgensis, Potentilla species and the rare Tulipa geseriana (Red Book of Kazakhstan). Characteristic also are salt communities with Halocnemium strobilaceum, Artemisia paucifora, Atriplex cana and Salicornia europaea. The vegetation at and around Lake Korgalzhyn comprises reedbeds with Phragmites australis, Typha angustifolia and Schoenoplectus lacustris. Lake Tengiz is lacking taller vegetation and is dominated by algae communities i.e. blue-green algae (Cyanophyceae) etc. Threatened animal species are Saiga tatarica (VU) with only single observations nowadays; Marmota bobak is common on unused steppe; Pond Bat (Myotis dasycneme, VU); Corsac Fox (Vulpes corsac; VU) etc.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Northern Pintail Anas acuta passage  2006  17,000-30,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Greater White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons passage  2006  9,500 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Greylag Goose Anser anser passage  2006  5,500 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Red-breasted Goose Branta ruficollis passage  2006  100 individuals  medium  A1  Vulnerable 
Mute Swan Cygnus olor passage  2006  4,550-5,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus passage  2006  2,500-4,500 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea passage  2006  36,000-40,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna passage  2006  31,400-35,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Gadwall Mareca strepera passage  2006  27,100-60,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Eurasian Wigeon Mareca penelope passage  2006  28,000-50,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos passage  2006  20,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Northern Shoveler Spatula clypeata passage  2006  37,000-50,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina passage  2006  30,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Common Pochard Aythya ferina passage  2006  150,000-300,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Vulnerable 
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca breeding  2006  300 individuals  medium  A1  Near Threatened 
Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula passage  2006  15,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Smew Mergellus albellus passage  2006  18,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Goosander Mergus merganser passage  2006  200-800 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala breeding  2006  870-2,000 individuals  medium  A1, A4i  Endangered 
Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena breeding  2006  530 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus breeding  2006  4,000-10,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis breeding  2006  750-1,800 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus breeding  2006  30,000-50,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Great White Egret Ardea alba passage  2006  1,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus breeding  2006  1,540-3,000 individuals  medium  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo breeding  2006  10,200-15,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni breeding  2006  30-50 individuals  good  A1  Least Concern 
Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus breeding  2006  50-200 individuals  medium  A1  Near Threatened 
Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus breeding  2006  50-200 individuals  medium  A1, A3  Near Threatened 
Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis non-breeding  2006  12-30 individuals  medium  A3  Endangered 
Common Coot Fulica atra passage  2006  100,000-125,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Demoiselle Crane Anthropoides virgo passage  2006  1,000 individuals  medium  A3, A4i  Least Concern 
Common Crane Grus grus passage  2006  3,500 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta breeding  2006  500 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Sociable Lapwing Vanellus gregarius passage  2006  20 individuals  medium  A1  Critically Endangered 
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa passage  2006  3,100-5,000 individuals  medium  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
Little Stint Calidris minuta passage  2006  15,000-30,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Dunlin Calidris alpina passage  2006  14,000-15,000 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Ruff Calidris pugnax passage  2006  10,000-15,000 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus passage  2006  300,000-400,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Black-winged Pratincole Glareola nordmanni breeding  2006  50-249 individuals  medium  A3  Near Threatened 
Sterna nilotica breeding  2006  1,500 individuals  medium  A4i  Not Recognised 
Pallas's Gull Larus ichthyaetus breeding  2006  100 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus passage  2006  2,500-3,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei breeding  2006  3,100 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Common Tern Sterna hirundo breeding  2006  800-1,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Little Tern Sternula albifrons breeding  2006  300 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
White-winged Lark Melanocorypha leucoptera breeding  2006  2,500 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Black Lark Melanocorypha yeltoniensis breeding  2006  8,000-10,000 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds passage  2006  2,000,000 individuals  good  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2012 medium favourable high
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Climate change and severe weather drought happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - dams (size unknown) happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Pollution domestic & urban waste water - type unknown/unrecorded happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Pollution industrial & military effluents - type unknown/unrecorded likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Artificial - terrestrial   0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable
Grassland Steppes & dry calcareous  0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable
Wetlands (inland)   0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  A comprehensive and appropriate management plan exists that aims to maintain or improve the populations of qualifying bird species  Substantive conservation measures are being implemented but these are not comprehensive and are limited by resources and capacity  high 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Kourgaldzhin and Tengiz Lakes Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 260,500 protected area contains site 258,963  
Kurgal'dzhinskiy State Nature Reserve 243,138 protected area contains site 258,963  
Saryarka – Steppe and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan World Heritage Site 450,344 protected area contains site 258,963  

Local conservation groups The local conservation group below is working to support conservation at this IBA.

Name Year formed
NGO "Rodnik" 1998


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland Steppes & dry calcareous  50%
Wetlands (inland) Rivers & streams; Standing brackish & salt water; Standing fresh water  50%
Artificial - terrestrial Arable land  minor

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 100%
rangeland/pastureland 5%
agriculture 5%
urban/industrial/transport minor

Protection status The area is identical to Korgaldzinskiy Zapovednik (Nature Reserve with highest level of protection).

References Aitzhanov M. 1998: Creating a Biosphere Reserve: Opportunities for the Tengiz Lakes in Kazakstan//Dömpke S., Succow M. Cultural Landscapes and Nature Conservation in Northern Eurasia. Bonn: Hrsg. Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU) e.V. P.P. 261-265. English Andrusyenko, N.N. & Minakov, A.I. 1986: Chislyennost’ nyekotorykh dikikh zhivotnykh v Kurgal’dzhinskom zapovyednikye//Vsyesoyuznoye sovyeshchaniye po problyemye kadastra i uchyota zhivotnogo mira: Tyezisy dokladov. Chast’ 2. Numbers of wild animals in the Kurgalzhin Nature Reserve. Moskva. S. 220-221, Russian Andrusyenko, N.N. 1979: Kormovyye vozmozhnosti i znachyeniye vodoyomov Kurgal’dzhzhinskogo zapovyednika dlya populyatsij vodoplavayushchikh ptits Zapadnoj i Sryednyej Sibiri v pyeriod ikh lyetnyej lin’ki//Migratsii i ekologiya ptits Sibiri: Tyezisy dokladov ornitologichyekoj konfyeryentsii. Feeding possibilities and importance of water bodies of the Korgalzhyn Nature Reserve for the population of water birds of West and North Siberia during the summer moulting. Yakutsk. S. 117-118, Russian Andrusyenko, N.N. 1986: Osyenniye migratsii flamingo v SSSR//Migratsii ptits v Azii. Novosibirsk. Autumn migration of flamigo in the USSR. Nauka. S. 150-158. Andrusyenko, N.N. 1986: Ryedkiye ptitsy Kurgal’dzhinskogo zapovyednika//Ryedkiye, ischyezayushchiye i maloizuchyennyye ptitsy SSSR. Rare birds of the Korgalzhyn Nature Reserve. Moskva. S. 109-114. Brombacher M., Sidorova T., Schmill J. 2000: UNESCO-Biosphärenreservat am Tengis. Biosphere Reserve at Lake Tengiz. Basel: Hrsg. Naturschutzbund Deutschland e.V. (NABU), Locher Brauchbar und Partner. 12 s.s. Dieterich, T., Sidorova, T., Bragina T., Lenk, M. et. al. 2006: Nomination Dossier “Saryarka – Steppe and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan” for inscription on the list of cultural and natural World Heritag of UNESCO, unpublished, 342 pages, English Eichhorn, G. & Heinicke, T. 2002: Notable observations of the Sociable Plover /Vanellus gregarius/ from the Tengiz-Korgalzhyn area-central Kazakhstan. /Wader Study Group Bulletin/ 93: 73-76. Eichhorn, G. & Khrokov, V. V. 2002: Decline in breeding Sociable Plovers /Chettusia gregaria/ in the steppes of Naurzum and Korgalzhyn, Kazakhstan. /Sandgrouse/ 24: 22-27. Eichhorn, G (2001)[ Zur Bedeutung der Steppenseen Zentral-Kasachstans als Rastplatz arktischer Watvögel Charadrii, insbesondere zur Rastplatzökologie von Zwergstrandläufer Calidris minuta und Odinshühnchen Phalaropus lobatus.] Diplomarbeit an der Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt/Main. (In German.) Filonyets, P.P. & Omarov, T.R. 1974: Ozyora Syevyernogo, Zapadnogo i Vostochnogo Kazakhstana: Spravochnik. Lakes of north, west and east Kazakhstan. Lyeningrad. 185 s. Heinicke T, Eichhorn, G, Kamp, J, Koshkin AV, Lachmann L, Schielzeth H (2000) Preliminary Checklist of the Birds of the Korgalzhin Nature Reserve and the planned Biosphere Reserve "Tengiz". Unpublished Mscr. IUCN (2005): World Heritage Thematic Study for Central Asia: A Regional Overview, 78 Pages, English (digital under Karamyshyeva, Z.V. & Rachkovskaya, Ye.I. 1973: Botanichyeskaya gyeografiya styepnoj chasti Tsyentral’nogo Kazakhstana. Botanical Geography of the Steppe part of Central Kazakhstan). Lyeningrad: Nauka. 277 p., Russian Khrokov, V. V. 1982: Zapovyednik Kurgal’dzhino. The Kurgalzhyn Nature Reserve, Alma-Ata: Kajnar. 172 s. Khrokov, V.V. & Andrusyenko, N. N. 1990: Kurgal’dzhinskij zapovyednik//Zapovyedniki Sryednyej Azii i Kazakhstana: Zapovyedniki SSSR, The Kurgalzhin Nature Reserve in Zapovedniks of Central Asia and Kazakhstan. Moskva: Mysl’. S. 68-80. Klimat Kazakhstana. Pod ryedaktsiyej A.S. Utyeshyeva. 1959: Lyeningrad: Gidromyetyeoizdat. 368 s. Koshkin AV (2002) [Addition to the bird fauna of Kurgalzhinskij nature reserve.] Selevinia 10:127-130 (in Russian). Koshkina, O.I. 1999: Obzor sostoyaniya populyatsij gusyej v Kurgal’dzhinskom zapovyednikye (Tsyentral’nyj Kazakhstan)//Kazarka: Byullyetyen’ rabochyej gruppy po gusyam i lyebyedyam Vostochnoj Yevropy i Syevyernoj Azii. № 5. Status quo of geese in the Korgalzhyn Nature Reserve. Moskva. S. 332-336. Krasnaya Kniga Kazakhskoj SSR: Ryedkiye i nakhodyashchiyesya pod ugrozoj ischyeznovyeniya vidy zhivotnykh i rastyenij. (Kollyektiv avtorov). Izd. 1ye. 1978: Alma-Ata. Chast’ 1. Pozvonochnyye zhivotnyye. Red Book of Kazakhstan – Fauna. 202 s. 1981: Chast’ 2. Rastyeniya. 260 s. Krasnaya Kniga Kazakhstana. (Kollyektiv avtorov). Izd. 3ye. 1996: Tom 1. Zhivotnyye. Chast’ 1. Pozvonochnyye, Red Book of Kazakhstan – Fauna Almaty. 327 s. Krivitskij, I.A., Khrokov, V.V., Volkov, Ye.N. & Zhulij, V.A. 1985: Ptitsy Kurgal’dzhinskogo zapovyednika. Birds of Kurgalzhyn Nature Reserve, Alma-Ata: Nauka. 195 s. Magin, C. and Chape, S. (2004). Review of the World Heritage Network: Biogeography, Habitats and Biodiversity. A Contribution to the Global Strategy for World Heritage Natural Sites. UNEP-WCMC, Cambridge,UK. 178 pp.´ Matmuratov, S. A., Stugye, T. S., Mitrofanov, I.V. & Akbyerdina, G.Zh. 1996: Sovryemyennoye sostoyaniye gidrotsyenozov Kurgal’dzhinskoj sistyemy ozyor//Sovryemyennyye problyemy ekologii Tsyentral’nogo Kazakhstana: Matyerialy ryespublikanskoj nauchno-praktichyeskoj konfyeryentsii. Status Quo of the hydrology of the Korgalzhyn Lake System. Karaganda. S. 59-63. Ryedkov, V.V. 1964: Pochvy Tsyelinogradskoj oblasti. Soils of the Tselinograd Region. Alma-Ata. 324 s. Schielzeth H., Eichhorn G, Heinicke T, Kamp J, Koshkin M., Koshkin AV (in review 2006): Waterbird migration on the Central Asian flyway: Population estimates from a key staging area in Central Kazakhstan. Journal of Ornithology, about 20 pages, English Schielzeth, H., Lachmann, L., Eichhorn, G. & Heinicke, T. 2003: The White-headed Duck /Oxyura leucocephala/ in the Tengiz-Korgalzhyn Region, Central Kazakhstan. /Wildfowl/ 54: 115-129. Sidorova, T. 2001: Korgalzhynskij zapovyednik - kandidat vo Vsyemirnoye prirodnoye naslyediye//Styepnoj byullyetyen’. Korgalzhyn Zapovednik – proposed for World Heritage, Zima 2001. № 9. Novosibirsk. S. 16-17. Sidorova, T.V. 1988: Sosudistyye rastyeniya Kurgal’dzhinskogo zapovyednika//Flora i fauna zapovyednikov SSSR: Opyerativno-informatsionnyj matyerial. Species List of Higer Plants of the Korgalzhyn Nature Reserve. Moskva. 34 s. 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Migration of the greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus. Moskva. S. 31-37. Walter, H. and Breckle, Siegmar-W. 1994: Spezielle Ökologie der Gemäßigten und Arktischen Zonen Euro-Nordasiens. Ecology of the Boreal and Arctic Zones in Euro-North Asia. Stuttgart, UTB, Gustav Fischer, 726 Seiten/Pages, ‚German Waterfowl Population Estimates 1994. Compiled by Rose P.M. & Scott D.A. IWRB. Publication 29. 102 p.p. Watson M, Wilson JM, Koshkin MA, Sherbakov B, Karpov FF, Gavrilov A, Schielzeth H, Brombacher M, Collar NJ & Cresswell W (2006): Nest survival and productivity of the critically endangered Sociable Lapwing Vanellus gregarius. Ibis 148: 489-502 Wein, N. 1985: Die Sowjetunion. The Soviet Union. Paderborn; München; Wien; Zürich, UTB, 314 Seiten/Pages (German) Wein, N. 1989: Kasachstan - Neulandgewinnung. Kazakhstan Virgin Land Programme. Diercke Handbuch . Braunschweig, Westerman Schulbuchverlag GmbH. S. 197-198 (German) Yelkin, K.F., Gulyayeva, T.S., Biushkina, G.B. & Konstantinidi, Ye.S. 1986: Obosnovaniye po ryegulirovaniyu vodnogo ryezhima ozyor Kurgal’dzhinskogo zapovyednika//Fyenologichyeskiye isslyedovaniya v gosudarstvyennykh zapovyednikakh. On the regulation of the water regima of the lakes in the Korgalzyhn Zapovednik. Alma-Ata: Kajnar. S. 26-28.

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