email a friend
printable version
Location Kazakhstan, West-Kazakhstan region
Central coordinates 50o 25.00' East  49o 20.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 175,315 ha
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan (Affiliate)

Site description The IBA is a fragmented wetland complex in the lowest reaches of the Kushum river and occupies part of the left bank of the Ural river, approximately 90 km to the west of main course. It is positioned in the centre of the Dangaly district of the West-Kazakhstan region. The site is formed by flooding from the Kushum river. The majority of the area consists of shallow stretches of water overgrown by dense reedbeds. Only the peripheral waterbodies (Edelsor-1 and Edelsor-2, for example) appear to be devoid of extensive vegetation. At present, due to naturally changing water cycles, exacerbated by man-made deflection of water through a network of artificial canals, a substantial part of the reedbeds are unflooded. The system contains a few major lakes (Byrkazan, Oryskopa, Sholokhovskoye, Khankol and Zhaltyrkol) that are included in the Zhaltyrkulsky (Zhaltyrkol) State Nature Reserve (Zakaznik). The fragments of dry land between the waterbodies are composed of plots of common to northern semi-desert with sparse vegetation on loamy and sandy soils. The flora is restricted to predominantly halophytes (70% representation), with motley-herbage-Artemisia complexes gradually replaced in hollows by patches of annual Salsola.

Key Biodiversity The area was visited twice in the last two years. In April 2006 - interesting records included Ardea cinerea – 15 pairs, Philomachus pugnax – 3,300 individuals, Cygnus olor - 22 pairs, and confirmed breeding by two species of raptor: Haliaeetus albicilla (1 nest) and Buteo rufinus (2 nests). In November 2007, more detailed observations were made and confirmed that the site is an important stop-over location for many thousands of waterfowl and shorebirds.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus passage  2007  872 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina passage  2007  3,530 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala passage  2007  350 individuals  good  A1, A4i  Endangered 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds passage  2007  20,000-49,999 individuals  medium  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2007 high very unfavourable not assessed
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Agricultural expansion and intensification livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Climate change and severe weather drought happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species direct mortality of trigger species - hunting and trapping happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Transportation and service corridors roads and railroads happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low

Artificial - terrestrial   0 0 moderate (70-90%) poor (40-69%) very unfavourable
Desert   0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable
Wetlands (inland)   0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Jalturkulskiy Zakaznik 19,000 protected area contained by site 19,000  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Desert Desert & semi-desert - clay; Desert & semi-desert - salty; Desert & semi-desert - sandy  60%
Wetlands (inland) Standing brackish & salt water; Standing fresh water; Water-fringe vegetation  35%
Artificial - terrestrial Other urban & industrial areas; Ruderal land  5%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
rangeland/pastureland 50%
fisheries/aquaculture 20%
hunting 30%

Protection status The core of the IBA is the Zhaltyrkol State Nature Reserve (Zakaznik). This protected area encloses several of the largest lakes, corresponding to 40% of the Reserve’s area.

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 (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Kushum Lakes. Downloaded from on 28/11/2014

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