The IBA is located in the Muinak district of the Kungrad region of the Autonomous Republic Karakalpakstan, 220 km from the town of Nukus. Sudochie consists of a large number of small and four large reservoirs (Akushpa, Karateren, Begdulla-Aydyn and Bolshoe Sudochie) and adjoining areas.
Akuspa covers 11,600 ha. The southern and western shores of the lake have a poorly indented coastline; the northern and eastern shores are strongly indented and boggy. The lake is surrounded by reedbeds. Open water makes up about 60% of its general area.
Karateren lake extends around the Urga cape of the Ustyurt plateau and covers an area of 475 ha. The shoreline adjoining the Ustyurt plateau is poorly indented, whereas the opposite shore, especially its northern part, is characterized by many indentations and a boggy shoreline. The lake is surrounded by continuous reedbeds and reed-mace.
Begdulla-Aydyn lies in the central part of the wetland and covers an area of 1,850 ha. The Kungrad collector channel enters the lake on its western side while on its eastern side a kilometre long channel connects it with Lake Bolshoe Sudochie. There is scattered vegetation throughout the open water areas but there are dense thickets of reed-mace along the shore.
Bolshoe Sudochie lake lies in the southeastern part of the wetland and covers 5,100 ha. The lake in general, especially its southern and eastern part, has a poorly indented shoreline, overgrown by a solid wall of reed. Reed is also dense along the northern shore but the open water area is largely devoid of surface vegetation. Other parts of the shoreline are dominated by reed-mace associations.
The Sudochie wetland remains one of the most ecologically intact zones of the Amudariya river delta. It is a place of preservation and maintenance of the biodiversity of this region. The lake supports many breeding waterbird species plus many migrants, including rare and disappearing species, using the Western-Asian migratory route.
Three years of ecological monitoring at Sudochie lake and its environs recorded 230 species of 17 orders. Approximately 110-120 (average 117) species were breeding representing about 52.2% and 26.5% respectively of the ornithological fauna of Uzbekistan. Of the cliffs of the Ustyurt plateau and desert area around the lake, the most typical species are: Buteo rufinus, Aquila chrysaetus, Falco cherrug, F. naumanni and F. tinnunculus, Bubo bubo and Athene noctua, Bucanetes githagineus, Corvus monedula and Corvus corax. The first nest of of Haliaeetus albicilla in Uzbekistan was also found here (Krejtsberg-Muchina and others, 2004). In the ravines of the cliffs Alectoris chukar, Coracias garrulus, Merops superciliosus, Upupa epops, Tadorna ferruginea and Tadorna tadorna nest. In the desert Chlamydotis undulata, Burhinus oedicnemus, Pterocles orientalis, Caprimulgus aegyptius, Galerida cristata, Calandrella rufescens, Oenanthe isabellina, Lanius excubitor, Sylvia nana and Rhodospiza obsoleta all breed. On the shore of the reservoirs and nearby saline soils are Charadrius dubius, Ch.alexandrinus, Ch. asiaticus and Ch. leschenaultii. On the islands and marshes nest Vanellus leucurus, Himantopus himantopus, Recurvirostra avosetta, Glareola pratincola, Larus cachinnans, Gelochelidon nilotica, Sterna hirundo, S. albifrons and S. caspia. In the damp areas near the lakes with tamarisk, reed and coastal meadow cereals typical species are Phasianus colchicus, Cuculus canorus, Motacilla personata, Motacilla flava, Erythropygia galactotes, Panurus biarmicus, Hippolais rama, Acrocephalus scirpaceus, A. stentoreus, A. dumetorum and A. agricola, Remiz coronatus, Emberiza schoeniclus and Corvus corone.
The IBA is located in the central part of the Central Asian flyway and is a stopover location for waterbirds from the north of Europe and Asia, Western Siberia and Kazakhstan on migration to wintering areas on the southern Caspian Sea, and in Africa, India and Pakistan. Spring migration begins in the middle of March and ends in the middle of May.
During monitoring 24 rare and vulnerable species were recorded, 13 of them included in the International Red Book of IUCN (2000), and 18 in the Red List of Uzbekistan (2003).
Aythya nyroca was formerly a usual breeding species on reservoirs near the Aral Sea (Kashkarov, 1987) but it is now rare. Although it was recorded on the wetland’s reservoirs practically throughout all of the monitoring period, numbers were insignificant. Of note was the discovery of Oxyura leucocephala, classed as Endangered by iucn in 2000, in significant migratory concentrations and also the first breeding record for Uzbekistan. Previously the species was known only as a rare and insufficiently studied migrant, possibly nesting (Kashkarov, 1987, Krejtsberg-Muchina, 2003).
Special attention should also be given to the occurrence of Numenuis tenuirostris, Critically Endangered, on migration (Krejtsberg-Muchina, Lanovenko, 2004).
Other interesting records include Limnodromus semipalmatus and Glareola nordmanni which occur during spring migration and in the summer.
Thus, the Sudochie wetland has huge value for the preservation of globally threatened species and species in the National Red Book. It is desirable to establish a protected area with the borders of the wetland and observations suggest that Akushpa lake woulkd be the most appropriate location.
Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals - 25 species of 6 orders: Insectivora - 2 species, Chiroptera - 4 species, Carnivora - 9 species, Artiodactyla - 3 species, Rodentia - 11 species, Lagomorpha - 1 species. The National Red Book (2003) includes 1 species (Gazella subgutturosa); the IUCN Red List 3 species (Felis caracal, Gazella subgutturosa and Saiga tatarica) and CITES appendices 4 species (Canis lupus, Felis libyca, Felis chaus and Felis caracal). Historical hunting records indicate the presence of Ondatra zubethicus around the reservoirs next to the Aral Sea in 1944.
Amphibious represented by 2 species: Bufo viridis and Rana ridibunda. Reptiles – more than 15 species. Presence of Agrionemys horsfieldii, Natrix tessellata, Varanus griseus, 3 species of Eremias, 3 species of Phrynocephalus, and 2 species of racers (Coluber ravergieri and Coluber karelini), Teratoscincus bedriagai, Cyrtopodion caspius and Crossobamon eversmanni, Trapelus sanguinolentus is exactly established.
Fish fauna of the wetlsnd is represented by 24 species and subspecies of fishes. Much of them concern to Cyprinidaes – 16 species.
Coastal vegetation of Sudochie is represented by 71 species of higher plants. Coastal vegetation of Bolshoe Sudochie’s lake is the richest – 59 species. Vegetative cover in modern delta almost everywhere has traces of people’s activity.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The most serious potential threat is a reduction/cessation of water inflows into lakes which would result in the lakes drying up and a loss of waterbird habitats.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Data on the avifauna of the Aral Sea’s basin were collecting by many researchers, dating from the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Ecological monitoring of the Sudochie wetland within the framework of the GEF-World Bank «Ecological monitoring of Sudochie lake» project which commencecd in autumn 1999 and ran for 3 years collected a great deal of material which has strategic importance for the region.
Sudochie natural sanctuary.
Habitat and land use
Habitats are represented by large shallow lakes, channels, extensive reedbeds, saline soils, stands of saxaul and the cliffs of the Ustyurt plateau. Typical key habitats are desert and semi desert, saline soils, freshwater and brackish lakes, marshes, and reed and bush thickets. The neighborhood of the Ustyurt plateau creates conditions for breeding predatory birds and also for many mammals, including the Endangered Saiga tatarica whose numbers have declined due to unlimited hunting and poaching.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Sudochye Lake. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 19/02/2020.