Kyrgyz Republic names high altitude lake
The Kyrgyz Republic, which joined the Convention in 2003, has designated its third Wetland of International Importance for the Ramsar List. Son-Kol Lake (36,869 hectares, 41°50'N 75°07'E), part of the Karatal-Japyryk State Nature Reserve, at 3,000+ meters asl, is the largest high altitude freshwater lake in central Kyrgyzstan, valuable both as a stopover point for a high diversity of migratory birds, such as the Black Stork (Ciconia nigra), as well as supporting breeding populations of gulls (e.g., Larus spp), terns (e.g., Sterna hirundo), geese (e.g., Anser indicus), and grebes (e.g. Podiceps nigricollis). The site also offers refuge for threatened species like the critically endangered Great Bustard (Otis tarda) and the vulnerable Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug). The lake is important for maintaining the livelihood of pastoralists and is also a popular camping site for tourists. Historically, the lake was used as a meeting place for many tribes, and it is archaeologically significant for its burial mounds, stone monuments and stone hearths. Local people consider the lake and its basin as sacred and often visit this area to pray.
Prior to 1957 the lake was fishless but, since then, introduced fish (e.g., Coregonus peled) have provided alternative sources of food. Such introductions have altered the zooplankton composition in the lake, however, which in turn has affected the number of bird species occurring in the area. The site is jointly managed by the Karatal-Japyryk State Nature Reserve and the State oblast administration.