The site is in Ilyisky district. Part of the northern area is in the Tay-Kum sandy desert and lies a short distance to the south of Topar village and approximately 20 km to the south-west of Zheltoranga.
The IBA consists of a collection of salty or brackish lakes occupying innumerable depressions amid the low ridges of fixed sand dunes, representing the spreading network of waterbodies at the periphery of the branch of the Topar river that forms the south-western extremity of the Ili river delta. Most of the lakes are either small or medium sized, generally shallow, and have moderate aquatic and shoreline vegetation growth. The littoral vegetation consists mainly of scattered stands of reed mixed with patches of Scirpus lacustris and Carex sp. aggregations. The exposed slopes of the hillocks and dune ridges are covered by sparse ephemeral flora and several species of typical dwarf brush. Every significant hollow on the leeward side of these hillocks and dunes sustains enough moisture to allow the growth of more robust desert plants: Lasiagrostis splendens, Halimodendron argeteum, Haloxylon sp. and Tamarix sp. In a few, widely scattered patches of lowland there are small stunted stands of Populus diversfolia.
The avifauna is typical of the desert waterbodies of Southern Kazakhstan. The site is important, though, as it supports a sizable and stable breeding population of Aythya nyroca. Several other ducks, Coot and rails also breed. Numerous spits and islets provide potential nesting sites for colonial species: Himantopus himantopus, Glareola pratincola, Chlidonias niger and others. The non-waterbird fauna includes some biome-restricted Passerines: Parus bukharensis, Hippolais rama, Sylvia nana and Emberiza bruniceps. 71 species were recorded between 15 and 17 June 2007.
Non-bird biodiversity: Reptiles include several species of snakes and lizards. Jerbils are prolific.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Illegal hunting, cattle grazing and disturbance.
The site lies faily close to, but is not included in, a relict woodland of Asiatic poplar, the majority of which lie in the Ily river delta.
Habitat and land use
Control of the greater part of the area is the responsibility of the hunting enterprises “Karakol” and “Toparskoye” who are required to regulate all possible exploitative activities through a system of issued permits. However, their supervision of the rules is considered to be only 50% effective.
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Topar Lake System. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 08/08/2022.