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Location Kazakhstan, Akmola region
Central coordinates 70o 53.00' East  50o 35.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A3, A4i, A4ii, A4iii
Area 20,350 ha
Altitude 350 - 365m
Year of IBA assessment 2005

Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan (Affiliate)

Site description The site is a cluster of waterbodies situated 80 km to the south-west of the regional centre, Astana, and approximately 50 km to the east of Korgalzhyn village. It is part of a large chain of lakes running along a shallow, approximately 100 km long trough, running parallel to the course of the Nura river at a distance of 30 km and represents the eastern periphery of the Tengiz lake system. The majority of the lakes form elongated clusters stretching along the floor of a few linear depressions that represent the historical course of the Nura river. The lakes of the IBA (Zharlykol, Karasor, Uzynkol and Aschikumkol) occupy the middle section (27 x 8 km) of the chain of waterbodies running north-east from the south of Tengiz lake. The bio-geography of the region corresponds to that of the dry steppe zone. The main land form in the vicinity of the lakes is an undulating plain. The natural vegetation is herb-grass associations typical for areas intermediate between the regions of proper steppe and semi-desert. The shallow lakes, with waters of low salinity, support an exuberant growth of reed. A considerable portion of the depressions around the lakes contain saltmarshes or alkaline plots.

Key Biodiversity A count of birds on Kumdukol lake on October 5 2004 recorded large concentrations of waterfowl. 35,000 geese (Anser anser and A. albifrons) were recorded flying away from the lake, plus about 9,000 surface-dwelling birds, mostly Anas strepera and Fulica atra. There were also important numbers of Cygnus cygnus – 235 individuals. In 2005, in the course of several separate surveys (July 1-2, August 13-14 and September 8-10) covering about 33 km2 of lakes, 110,000 birds of 71 species were observed. The most numerous was Anser anser (post-breeding pairs with offspring and non-breeding groups). The second most numerous was Fulica atra (over 16,000 birds). Surface-feeding ducks were present in good numbers. Concentrations of waders were observed on the shallow shores of Uzynkol and Aschikumkol lakes. In mid-August, at one of the lake’s inlets, there were 150 Himantopus himantopus and 1,600 Limosa limosa. Another species that occurs in a very significant numbers on the shores of these lakes at the end of summer is Grus virgo. The overall number of cranes recorded during the 2005 survey was 2,400 individuals. A flock of 64 Sociable Lapwings were observed beside a half-evaporated salt-pan at the outskirts of Kumkol village. Notable observations for the site were Larus ichthyaetus, Oxyura leucocephala and Glareola nordmanni. The site is important for passage birds crossing an otherwise predominantly agricultural landscape.

Non-bird biodiversity: The dominant emergent plant is Phragmites australis occurring in some places Typha angustifolia and Scirpus lacustris, while the muddy shoals are often overgrown Carex. On the outskirts of the lake system and in the immediate proximity of many waterbodies, a few plots of steppic landscape remain, though these are generally severely degraded by intensive grazing, but still retain the remnants of the rich-herbage-motley-turf-grass associations.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Greater White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons passage  2004  30,000-70,000 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Greylag Goose Anser anser passage  2005  5,800-85,900 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus passage  2005  235-850 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea passage  2005  300-5,600 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna passage  2005  300-865 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos passage  2005  600-24,850 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala passage  2005  13-473 individuals  medium  A1, A4i  Endangered 
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus passage  2005  350-490 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis passage  2005  300 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus non-breeding  2005  30 individuals  good  A1  Vulnerable 
Demoiselle Crane Anthropoides virgo passage  2005  2,400 individuals  good  A3, A4i  Least Concern 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta passage  2005  2,450 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Sociable Lapwing Vanellus gregarius passage  2005-2007  15-107 individuals  medium  A1, A4ii  Critically Endangered 
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa passage  2005  1,660-2,540 individuals  good  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
Black-winged Pratincole Glareola nordmanni breeding  2006  min 36 breeding pairs  medium  A1, A3  Near Threatened 
White-winged Lark Melanocorypha leucoptera breeding  2005  common  A3  Least Concern 
Black Lark Melanocorypha yeltoniensis breeding  2005  common  A3  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds passage  2004-2005  35,000-110,000 individuals  good  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2005 medium 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 small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species direct mortality of trigger species - hunting and trapping happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Pollution agricultural and forestry effluents and practices happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low

Artificial - terrestrial   0 0 moderate (70-90%) good (> 90%) near favourable
Desert   0 0 moderate (70-90%) good (> 90%) near favourable
Grassland   0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable
Shrubland   0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable
Wetlands (inland)   0 0 moderate (70-90%) good (> 90%) near favourable


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland Low bushes  5%
Grassland Humid; Steppes & dry calcareous  15%
Desert Desert & semi-desert - clay  5%
Wetlands (inland) Standing brackish & salt water; Standing fresh water; Water-fringe vegetation  40%
Artificial - terrestrial Arable land; Other urban & industrial areas  35%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture 30%
Notes: A part of arable land lies temporaily waste.
rangeland/pastureland 20%
fisheries/aquaculture 30%
hunting 30%

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Kumdykol-Zharlykol Lake System. Downloaded from on 27/11/2014

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