Lesser Aral Sea

Year of compilation: 2005

Site description
The terrestrial part of the IBA is represented by a few low sections of the former shore retaining the general aspect of the northern deserts with typical flora and fauna. Also significant is the area of previous water that is now dry following the dramatic recession of the waters of the Aral Sea almost three decades ago. The subsequent natural development of these particular areas has resulted in a rather diversified character to the area and although initial impressions are that it is desertified, this is in no way severe, and there are numerous shallow despressions with enough moisture to allow the development of moisture-related salt-tolerant biotopes. Other areas with depressions have semi-permanent waterbodies creating a local wetland network. The wildlife communities are similarly adapting to the changing conditions.

Key biodiversity
Approximately 213 species have been recorded in the area. The overall numbers of migrating waterfowl using the site exceed the 20,000 IBA threshold several fold.

Non-bird biodiversity: The mammal and herpetological faunas are typical for the habitat. There is, however, a distinct fish fauna with several endemic species and most species are protected.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Most serious threat is intensive fishing which causes incessant disturbance and indiscriminate interference with many breeding waterbirds.

Protected areas
Planning is in progress for part of the Syrdariya delta, and adjoining portion of the Lesser Aral, to be incorporated into the existing “Barsakelmes” State Nature Reserve.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lesser Aral Sea. Downloaded from on 20/05/2022.