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Location Uzbekistan, Karakalpakstan autonomous region
Central coordinates 57o 20.85' East  42o 12.26' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i
Area 95,974 ha
Altitude 1 - 180m
Year of IBA assessment 2011

Uzbekistan Society for the Protection of Birds (Affiliate)



Summary The proposed IBA includes Sarykamysh Lake, Ustyurt Plateau and the Eastern Cliffs (Chink) of Ustyurt. Sarykamysh Lake is a closed brackish lake located in the central part of the Sarykamysh depression about halfway between the Caspian and Aral Seas. It is a cross-border site and the Turkmen portion of the lake is already designated as an IBA (TM 022). The deep northern part of the lake (1000 km2) belongs to Uzbekistan and the remainder (about 3000 km2) to Turkmenistan. It is one of the largest water bodies in Central Asia (Nikitin, 1978). The Eastern Cliffs of Ustyurt are located along the west and north-east shores of the lake. Riparian vegetation at the northern end of the lake is poorly developed because of the recent rise in water levels. There are small areas of reed and reedmace in the shallow parts of the north and north-west shores. The east shore is completely devoid of vegetation due to being very deep. A wide (1 km) strip of shore separates the lake from the Ustyurt plateau (clayey soil in the east and sand in the north and west). Lake Sarykamysh has been surveyed rarely so there is not so much data available. The avifauna of Ustyurt is poor due to the extreme aridity and homogeneity of the landscape. However, among the nesting birds there are Houbara Bustard (globally endangered species ) and Pterocles alchata (nationally endangered and declining in Central Asia). The East Cliffs of Ustyurt has special importance for breeding birds of prey such as Egyptian Vulture and Saker Falcon (both globally threatened). Unfortunately, there is not much information on this region due to its remoteness. However, since 2007 three short surveys (spring 2007, summer and autumn 2010) have been undertaken. During these surveys 108 species of bird were recorded.

Site description The proposed IBA includes Sarykamysh Lake, Ustyurt Plateau and the Eastern Cliffs (Chink) of Ustyurt. Sarykamysh Lake is a closed brackish lake located in the central part of the Sarykamysh depression about halfway between the Caspian and Aral Seas. It is a cross-border site and the Turkmen portion of the lake is already designated as an IBA (TM 022). The deep northern part of the lake (1000 km2) belongs to Uzbekistan and the remainder (about 3000 km2) to Turkmenistan. It is one of the largest water bodies in Central Asia (Nikitin, 1978). The lake formed in 1963 as a result of the release of drainage waters from the irrigated oases of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan located along the left bank of the lower Amu Darya in the Sarykamysh depression into the the ancient Daryalyk riverbed. The area is 400000 ha, the volume is more than 60 km3, and the maximum depth is 45 m.The Eastern Cliffs of Ustyurt are located along the west and north-east shores of the lake. Riparian vegetation at the northern end of the lake is poorly developed because of the recent rise in water levels. There are small areas of reed and reedmace in the shallow parts of the north and north-west shores. The east shore is completely devoid of vegetation due to being very deep. A wide (1 km) strip of shore separates the lake from the Ustyurt plateau (clayey soil in the east and sand in the north and west). It is densely covered with thickets of tamarisk and saxaul.In 2002 - 2007 mineralization in the Uzbek northwestern part of the lake was 12.6 - 14 g/l. Currently mineralization is increasing because of a reduction of the inflow of the Daryalyk collector.In 1980 the Sarykamysh Lake Zakaznik was established in Turkmenistan administered by the Gaplangyr Reserve. The total area is 551066 ha, including 203561 ha of open water. In 2008 this part of the lake was designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA). In 2010, on the Karakalpak part of the lake, there were 7 fishery enterprises operating.The Ustyurt Plateau is an elevated plain folded with Neogene limestones, Paleogene clays and gypsum. Steep escarpments (cliffs) form the edges of the plateau in the southwest. The height of the plateau is 100-300 m asl.The desert landscape of Ustyurt consists of a clay-soil sagebrush desert and sagebrush-saltwort desert. The southeast part of Ustyurt is a clay-gravel desert. The main vegetation consists of Salsola arbuscula, Artemisia, Anabasis salsa, and saxaul. The climate is dry and sharply continental. Precipitation is just over 100 mm per year. The main part of Ustyurt is used as spring-summer-autumn pasture. The proposed IBA also includes the Sarzha depression located in the northeast of the IBA where there is the Sarzha well with brackish water. According to Matekova G., Caspian Plover and Houbara Bustard were recorded in the area of the depression during the breeding season in May 2007.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula passage  2010  95-595 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala passage  2010  2 individuals  poor  A1  Endangered 
Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus breeding  2010  2 breeding pairs  good  A1  Endangered 

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Wooded desert & semi-desert  5%
Shrubland Scrub  10%
Desert Desert & semi-desert - clay; Desert & semi-desert - salty; Desert & semi-desert - sandy  55%
Wetlands (inland) Standing brackish & salt water  22%
Rocky areas Inland cliffs  8%

Land ownership 7 fisheries enterprises hold Sarykamysh lake under lease.

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture 22%

Other biodiversity The following mammals have been recorded - Hemiechinus auritus, Hemiechinus hypomelas, Canis lupus, Vulpes vulpes, Meles meles, Mustela eversmanni, Sus scrofa, Gazella subgutturosus, Lepus tolai and Rhombomys opimus. Among 15 fish species recorded in Lake Sarykamysh in the last two years were found two species included in the Red Data Book of Uzbekistan (2010): Pungitius platygaster aralensis (8 individuals were found in the stomach of a pikeperch) and Barbus capito conocephalus (Zholdasova et al, 2009).

Protection status There is no nature protected areas on this territory.

Acknowledgements To CLP-SOS project "Survey of 3 potential IBAs in collaboration with students in Uzbekistan"

References 1. Kashkarov RD. UzSPB report for FFI «Assessment of the avifauna of the southern part of Ustyurt in summer 2010" June 22-28, 2010. Tashkent, 2010.2. Ten A. UzSPB report for CLP and IFAS on field research in Southern Aral Sea in autumn 2010 and Akpetkinski lakes system and lake Sarykamysh, October 15 - November 4, 2010.3. Matekova G., oral report.4. Reserves of Central Asia and Kazakhstan (edited by R. Yaschenko). Protected areas in Central Asia and Kazakhstan, vol. 1 - Tethys, Almaty, 2006 - 252 p.5. Bykova EA, Esipov AV. Mammalian fauna of Ustyurt / / Proc. Abstracts III International Scientific and Practical Conference "Problems of rational use and protection of biological resources of the Southern Aral Sea." Nukus. 2010. pp. 5-6.6. Important Bird Areas in Turkmenistan. Ashgabat 20087. Zholdasova IM, Soloviev DM, Temirbekov RO, Adenbaev EA, Mustafayeva ZA, Musaev, AK, Orel MM. Lake Sarykamysh in a changing hydrological regime / / Abstracts of the Republican Scientific-Practical Conference "Science in Karakalpakstan: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" on the 50th anniversary of Karakalpakstan Branch of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Nukus. 2009. pp. 35-36.8. Zholdasova IM, Nishonov B, Temirbekov RO. The levels of pesticide contamination of fish in drainage waters in Karakalpakstan / / Proc. Abstracts of the III International Scientific and Practical Conference "Problems of rational use and protection of biological resources of the Southern Aral Sea." Nukus. 2010. S.10.9. The Red Data Book of the Uzbekistan. Vol. 2. Animals. Tashkent: Chinor ENK. 2009. 215 p.10. Pavlovskaya LP. The structure of fish populations in the discharge end of irrigation systems. - Tashkent: Fan. 1990. 109 p.11. Poltoratski SV. The role of irrigation and drainage systems in the formation of the ichthyofauna of drainage water reservoirs. - Sci. Conf. The basics of fishery in the republics of Central Asia and Kazakhstan / / Ashgabat, 1974. - Ashgabat: Ylym. 1974. Vol.2. P.68-69.12. Sanin MV, et al. Lake Sarykamysh and other drainage water reservoirs. M: Nauka. 1991. 149.13. Talskih VN, Zholdasova IM, Saparov KA, Saparov AD, Matmuratov M, Mirabdullayev IM. The impact of drought on hydrofauna of lakes (Sudochye wetland case study) / / In: Actual problems of zoological science. Tashkent. 2009. p. 46-47.14. Turkmen Lake "Altyn Asyr", Ashgabat, 2009. 100 p.15. IUCN Red List //www.iucnredlist .org16. STRICT NATURE RESERVES OF CENTRAL ASIA (editor-in-chief R.V. Jashenko)17. Nature Protected Areas of Central Asia, Nr. 1 - Tethys, Almaty, Kazakhstan, 2006 -352 p.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Sarykamysh lake and surrounding Ustyurt Plateau. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/09/2014

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