Akzhan Lake

Year of compilation: 2007

Site description
The lake is situated in Kostanai region, 30 km north-east of the district centre, Uzynkol (Leninskoye), in a natural hollow. Its northern and southern shores have a gentle flat relief, the eastern and western shores are sloping. The southern and eastern corners of the lake have a complicated shoreline with many small promontories, emergent and permanent bars; the remainder of the shoreline is smooth. There are two additional waterbodies to the north of the lake, Ortakol and an un-named lake. Both appear to be unsuitable for birds being small and shallow. Akzhan lake is subject to natural hydrological variations related to climate conditions: after winters with much snow the average depth reaches 3-3.5 m, compared with 1.5-2 m in dry years. As a rule, for 2-3 years immediately following high water levels, the lake is fresh. One small rivulet enters the lake in the southern part but its capacity seems to be inadequate for the sustaining optimal water levels. The fringing vegetation, Phragmites and Scirpus sp, is most developed along the southern and south-eastern shores. The main body of open water contains an impressive scattering of small reedbeds. Approximately 1-2 km from the western and eastern shorelines there are scattered isolated forest stands mixed Birch-Aspen. The majority of the land between these woody plots is crops. The most important local agricultural product is wheat.

Key biodiversity
The lake is an important stop-over site for migrating waterbirds (being visited by no less than 50 species per season) with concentrations up to 40,000 birds. It also supports nesting and moulting populations of waterbirds: more than 5,000 pairs of 35 species of waterbirds are reckoned to breed and about 20,000, or more, birds moult. National Red Data Book species include: Pelecanus crispus, Cygnus cygnus, Branta ruficollis, Anser erythropus and Haliaeetus albicilla. The harvested fields surrounding the lake serve as the foraging areas for geese, swans, Philomachus pugnax and Numenius arquata. Interesting terrestrial breeding species include Lagopus lagopus, Lyrurus tetrix and Aquila heliaca.

Non-bird biodiversity: The shores of the lake are frequented by a few large mammal species: Nyctereutes procyonoides, Meles meles, Vulpes vulpes and Capreolus capreolus.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The main hazards are natural cycles in the hydrological regime, fishing (when water levels are high), illegal hunting (the lake is not officially assigned to a known hunting society) and disturbance linked to intensive cattle grazing.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
There have been repeated visits to the lake during the last decade, in summer and during the periods of spring and, especially autumn, migration, by international scientific teams. One survey was to assess the potential of the site as a breeding ground of Numenius tenuirostris, and another conducted a series of observations as part of a Finn-Kazakhstan Project “Monitoring of autumn migration of Anser erythropus in Kostanai Regon, North-Western Kazakhstan”. Recently in the Kostanai Region there has been a GEF/UNEP Project dedicated to the organization and development of effectively managed wetland territories as habitat of Grus leucogeranus and other waterbird species.

Habitat and land use
Various economic activities take place around the lake: the most important are grazing and assocuated cattle-raising activities, hay production, and recently large scale wheat cultivation.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Akzhan Lake. Downloaded from on 22/09/2020.