Karakyr Lakes

Site description (2006 baseline):

Site location and context
Karakyr lake system is situated in the SW Kyzylkum desert 30 km to the N of Gazly town and 120 km to the NW of Bukhara town. Nearby there are some large hills with the same name. Karakyr was created in the 1970s and consists of two large wastewater lakes and a large area of floodplain located along the collector channel supplying the lakes. The lakes have open water areas surrounded by reed. Seepage and flooding of the sandy desert surrounding the lakes and floods is resulting in the growth of grassy vegetation and the sands are becoming fixed. The water supply of lakes is excess water from the Northern collector. The main period of inflows is in March-April. Karakyr lakes system consists of three separate lakes: Big Karakyr, Small Karakyr and Aquarium. The general area (with a buffer zone) is about 50,000 ha. The maximal depth is 4.0-5.0 m (10-15 % of all area), the average depth is 2.3-3.0 m (65-75 %). In summer due to the high rate of evaporation and a reduction of water inflows most of the reservoir (40-50 %) dries up and there is eutrophication. The bottom of the lake is basically firm but there are oozy sediments in some areas. The general mineralization is rather high: from 5,360 mg/l in winter-spring up to 12,842 mg/l in summer-autumn. Although only a few sites have been formally proposed under the A3 biome-restricted criteria (for biome CA04b Eurasian Desert and Semi-desert), many of the IBAs in the Kyzylkum Desert region support populations of biome-restricted species and, effectively, form a network of sites throughout the area.

Key biodiversity
The avifauna of Karakyr is typical of similar ecosystems of the region. According to literature data and our own observations about 200 species of birds have been recorded at the site. Of these 122 species are waterfowl and waterbirds. Typical and numerous species are Podiceps nigricolis, Podiceps cristatus, Anser anser, Netta rufina and Circus aeruginosus. Porzana parva, Gallinula chloropus and Fulica atra nest throughout. On the shore Vanechettusia leucura, Himantopus himantopus and Glareola pratincola breed. In the reeds Acrocephalus stentoreus, A.agricola, Locustella luscinoides, Panurus biarmicus etc occur (Sagitov, Pukinskiy, Pukinskaya, 1989). According to the same authors, nesting of Glareola nordmani has been suspected but we have not found this species during repeated visits to the wetland at the end of the 1990s. In 1987 (on April 19) just in the area of the Aquarium a colony consisting of approximately 1,000 nests of Phalacrocorax carbo, 41 nests of P.pygmeus, 400 pairs of Nycticorax nycticorax, 15 pairs of Ardea cinerea, 3 pairs of A.purpurea was found. 8-10 individual Pelecanus crispus and P.onocrotalus have also been noted but nests have not been found plus Egretta alba, E.garzetta, Plegadis falcinelus and Platalea leucorodia. In an area of 8 ha 4 male Botaurus stellaris were displaying. Typical species of the islands and shore of the reservoir and nearby saline soils are: Charadrius dubius, Charadrius alexandrinus, Vanellochettusia leucura, Himantopus himantopus, Recurvirostra avosetta and other waders, also Glareola pratincola, Sterna hirundo, Sterna albifrons and Larus cachinnans. On wet sites near to the lakes and overgrown with tamarix, reed and other vegetation, breeding birds include: Panurus biarmicus, Hippolais rama, Acrocephalus stentoreus, Acrосephalus agriсola, Emberiza schoeniclus and Corvus corone. The following species are most typical of the desert around the lake: Burhinus oedicnemus, Podoces panderi, Pterocles orientalis, Caprimulgus aegyptius, Galerida cristata, Merops superciliosus, wheatears, Sylvia nana, Hippolais rama and Rhodospiza obsoleta. Chlamуdotis undulata also nests here. In June 1998 and 2000 in the depressions among the hilly areas we regularly observed broods of this species. Winter counts of the lakes have recorded 43 species of bird. The data of these counts are given below. List of wintering birds: 1. Tachybaptus ruficollis 2. Podiceps cristatus 3. Podiceps grisegena 4. Podiceps auritus 5. Podiceps nigricollis 6. Podicipedidae spp. 7. Phalacrocoraх carbo 8. Phalacrocoraх pygmaeus 9. Pelecanus onocrotalus 10. Pelecanus crispus 11. Botaurus stellaris 12. Egretta alba 13. Ardea cinerea 14. Anser anser 15. Anser erythropus 16. Cygnus olor 17. Cygnus cygnus 18. Cygnus spp. 19. Tadorna tadorna 20. Anas penelope 21. Anas strepera 22. Anas сrесса 23. Anas platyrhynchos 24. Anas acuta 25. Anas clypeata 26. Netta rufina 27. Aythya ferina 28. Aythya nyroca 29. Aythya fuligula 30. Bucephala clangula 31. Mergus albellus 32. Mergus merganser 33. Mergus spp. 34. Оxуurа leucocephala 35. Anas spp. 36. Aythya spp. 37. Anatinae spp. 38. Haliaeetus leucoryphus 39. Haliaeetus albicilla 40. Circus aeruginosus 41. Circus cyaneus 42. Circus unidentified 43. Aquila nipalensis 44. Aquila spp. 45. Gallinula chloropus 46. Fulica atra 47. Larus ichthyaetus 48. Larus ridibundus 49. Larus genei 50. Larus сachinans 51. Panurus biarmicus During summer observations in 2006 37 species waterfowl and waterbird were found nesting. These included the globally threatened Oxyura leucocephala and National Red Data Book species: Phalacrocorax pygmaeus, Pelecanus onocrotalus, Plegadis falcinellus, Egretta garzetta, Platalea leucorodia and Cygnus olor. List of breeding birds 1. Tachybaptus ruficollis 2. Podiceps cristatus 3. Phalacrocorax carbo 4. Phalacrocorax pygmaeus 5. Pelecanus onocrotalus 6. Nycticorax nycticorax 7. Plegadis falcinellus 8. Egretta alba 9. Egretta garzetta 10. Ardea cinerea 11. Ardea purpurea 12. Platalea leucorodia 13. Cygnus olor 14. Anser anser 15. Anas strepera 16. Anas crecca 17. Anas platyrhynchos 18. Netta rufina 19. Aythya ferina 20. Oxyura leucocephala 21. Cirsuc aeruginosus 22. Fulica atra 23. Himantopus himantopus 24. Chettusia leucura 25. Larus ridibundus 26. Larus genei 27. Sterna caspia 28. Sterna hirundo 29. Sterna albifrons 30. Larus cachinnans 32. Panurus biarmicus

Non-bird biodiversity: Various mammals occur in the adjacent desert including Gazella subgutturosa (included in the Uzbekistan Red Data Book). Huntable species include Lepus tolai and Sus scrofa. Vulpes corsac, Felis chaus and Felis libyca also occur. Rodents are represented by gerbils and jerboas. Introduced species include Ondatra zibethicus and Myocastor сoypus. Of reptiles Varanus griseus and Teratoscincus scincus are included in the Uzbekistan Red Data Book. There are also various lizards, agamas and Trapelus sanguinolentus. In the lakes Barbus capito conocephalus, Cyprinus carpio, Silurus glanis, Stizostedion lucioperca and other fish can be found. Rana ridibunda and Bufo viridis are numerous. Zooplankton in the lakes includes 15 species. In shallow water areas reed is common. There are Potamogeton sp., on the shore thickets of tamarix. In the sandy desert characteristic vegetative associations consist of bushes of saxaul and sandy acacia.

Habitat and land use
Karakyr lake is a wetland complex in the natural depressions of a low hilly area of fixed sand. There are numerous shallow pools with a depth of 1-2 m. Small and large areas of water have a depth of 4-6 (maximum 10) m. Annually by the autumn a significant part of the shallows dry up and have extensive growth of surface vegetation Thickets of reed cover significant areas, especially on the flood areas along the Northern collector channel. Open aquatorias of the separete lake "Aquarium" are bordered by thickets of Typha angustifolia . Reeds dominate on Karakyr lake where there is a large open water area. There are large tamarix thickets along its western coast. Adjacent areas to the lake territory are mainly sandy desert. In the West and South it is typical gently undulating sandy desert with bushes of saxaul and sandy acacia. The Karakyr hills are fixed sand with grassy vegetation. Adjacent to the wetland, the desert is used mainly as pasture for livestock. Illegal cutting of saxaul and other fire wood also occurs. The reservoir is rich with fish including pike perch, catfish, sazan, Barbus capito conocephalus etc. On Big Karakyr lake there is a game farm for waterfowl. Cases of poaching are sometimes recorded. In the summer due to the high rate of evaporation and a reduction in water inflow a large part (40-50 %} of the reservoir dries up and eutrophication is observed. Aquatic macrophytes such as hara and Potamogeton sp. die and the bottom of the lake becomes bare.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The greatest threat for nesting, migrating and wintering birds is the natural loss of open water by vegetation encroachment, mainly reed Phragmites sp. On the lake poaching for waterfowl is widespread.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
In June 1998 a short-term survey was conducted within the framework of the development of the Uzbekistan IBA programme with the assistance of NABU. In 2000 within the framework of the project « Protection of Uzbekistan’s Wetlands and Their Waterfowl » two winter aerial surveys were carried out. As a result of these counts it was established that Karakyr fulfils Ramsar convention criteria for inclusion in the Ramsar list. The report was transferred to the State Biological Control of the State Committee for Nature Protection of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the secretary of the Ramsar convention. In 2006 within the framework of the project « Uzbekistan IBA Programme » summer ornithological observations of Karakyr were carried out. The site's conformity to the international IBA criteria was established.

Protected areas
Karakyr state reserve was created by Decision of the Bukhara regional executive committee № 15/1 from 25.01.1992.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Karakyr Lakes. Downloaded from on 02/10/2023.