Kazakhstan names two important lake systems

20/05/2009

The government of Kazakhstan has designated two new Wetlands of International Importance, effective 7 May 2009, bringing that country's Ramsar sites total to four sites covering 531,141 hectares. Both are lake complexes in the Kostanay oblast in the northern part of the country. Both have also been designated in the Western/Central Asian Site Network for Siberian Cranes and Other Globally Endangered Wetland Bird Species in the framework of the Convention on Migratory Species and, for both of them, RIS site information has been developed with the assistance of the UNEP/GEF Siberian Crane Wetlands Project. Ramsar's Assistant Advisor for Asia/Oceania, Ann Aldersey, has provided brief site descriptions based on the RIS information.

Koibagar-Tyuntyugur Lake System (58,000 hectares, 52°39’N 065°45’E) comprises five river-fed, freshwater lakes characterized by a diversity of habitats including extensive shoreline reedbeds, open water and seasonal floodplain wet meadows. The lake system is of great importance for Anseriformes during all periods; up to 200,000 moulting individuals have been recorded during favourable conditions, and as many as 500,000 waterbirds during the period of autumn passage. The site supports 13 bird species on the IUCN Red List, including the Siberian Crane (Grus leucogeranus) and Sociable Lapwing (Vanellus gregarious), and over 1% of the populations of 12 waterbird species. The area surrounding the lakes is used for agriculture, including grain cropping and animal husbandry. Koibagar and Tyuntyugur lakes are used for commercial fishing, and associated boating activities cause distriburbance to bird nesting and migration. Goose hunting, vegetation trampling, and fires also pose threats to the ecological character of the site.

Kulykol-Taldykol Lake System (8,300 hectares, 51°23’N 061°52’E) is a wetland complex comprising two large lakes, Kulykol and Taldykol, and several smaller lakes. The complex is highly significant for waterbirds. It is habitat for 12 bird species on the IUCN Red List, including the Siberian Crane (Grus leucogeranus), and supports tens of thousands of Anseriformes during migration and moulting, as well as over 1% of the populations of 12 species of waterbird. 45 species of wetland birds are reported to nest at the site. The lake system has a range of habitats including open water, damp meadows and shoreline reedbeds. Lake depth and salinity fluctuates seasonally. The site is surrounded by agricultural land –  including grain crops attractive to large numbers of geese – and is used for hunting and small-scale fishing by local residents.

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