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Location Kazakhstan, West-Kazakhstan region
Central coordinates 51o 40.00' East  50o 33.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 27,530 ha
Altitude 17 - 25m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan (Affiliate)

Site description Chelkar Lake is situated within the farthest outer range of the Northern Caspian lowlands 70 km to the south-south-east of the regional centre of Uralsk, on the left bank (Trans-Ural) part of the Western Kazakhstan region, in Terekty administrative district. The waters of the lake are in a medium-sized karst cavity, a product of salt-dome tectonic activity, and are fed by the east and north-east branches of the Solyanka river. In years of abundant flooding the lake becomes a running waterbody draining surplus water back into the eastern course of the Solyanka. However, the water is always salty. The nearby upland massif encloses the lake in the south and north-east by two chalky ranges - Santas and Sassai - each only a few metres high. Chelkar Lake is almost circular and 14 km in diameter. It lies between the vast expanses of the northern desert and dry steppe, with the surrounding landscape consisting of semi-humid grassland ranging from wormwood-tussock grass associations nearest the lake to meadow-related vegetation mostly of Agropyron sp. The shores of the lake are mostly muddy shallows or water-logged saline areas. The only woody vegetation around the lake are small stands of Tamarix in narrow strips stretching, with breaks, along the whole perimeter of the shore. Reedbeds cover the shallow areas of the northern and western shore and are up to 500 m wide in places.

Key Biodiversity Decades of recording confirm the lake as one of the most important resting areas for migrating waterbirds in western Kazakhstan. Typical species include Podiceps cristatus, Ardea cinerea, Cyngus cygnus, Cygnus olor, Tadorna ferruginea, Anser anser, Anser albifrons, diving and surface feeding ducks, gulls and waders. The varied biotopes of the shoreline zone provide breeding areas for terns, waders and a few species of reed-thicket passerines. In addition to the waterfowl the site is frequented by passage White-tailed Eagles, harriers and Merlins.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus passage  2007  858 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea passage  2007  6,200 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus passage  2007  5,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax breeding  2007  < 50 individuals  poor  A1  Near Threatened 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds passage  2007  20,000-49,999 individuals  medium  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2010 high unfavourable not assessed
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Climate change and severe weather drought happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Geological events earthquakes/tsunamis happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Residential and commercial development tourism and recreation areas happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Transportation and service corridors roads and railroads happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Grassland Dry grassland on sandy soils  0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable
Grassland Steppes & dry calcareous  0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable
Shrubland Scrub  0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable
Wetlands (inland) Rivers & streams  0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable
Wetlands (inland) Standing brackish & salt water  0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable
Wetlands (inland) Water-fringe vegetation  0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland Scrub  minor
Grassland Dry grassland on sandy soils; Steppes & dry calcareous  3%
Wetlands (inland) Rivers & streams; Standing brackish & salt water; Water-fringe vegetation  94%
Artificial - terrestrial Other urban & industrial areas; Ruderal land  3%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
rangeland/pastureland 3%
agriculture 1%
fisheries/aquaculture 90%
hunting 3%
tourism/recreation 1%

Acknowledgements The compilers express their gratitude and appreciation of the professional assistance and the amount of effort spent in the accomplishment of the survey to F.G. Bidashko, a research employee of the Uralsk Division of National Plague Research Centre .

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Shalkar Lake. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016

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