Uyalyshalkar Lake System

Country/territory: Kazakhstan

IBA criteria met: A1, A3, A4i, A4iii (2005)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 20,360 ha

Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity in Kazakhstan
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2015 very unfavourable not assessed not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring, please click here

Site description (2005 baseline)
The site consists of a group of waterbodies 80 km to the south-west of Astana and just to the east of Korgalzhyn village, 15 km to the south of the motorway connecting these two points. The lakes form part of the eastern periphery part of the Tengiz lake system and consist of Zhanybekshalkar, Uhyalyshalkar, Zhylandyhalkar and Shiyshalkar Lakes, arranged in a line stretching 25 km, along the course of the Nura river not far from the point where it enters Tengiz lake. Although the edges of the wetland complex were long ago damaged by ploughing, the relative abundance of swampy areas and patches of waterlogged saline land, especially in the environs of Shiyshalkar, hampers further encroachment and the land around the shores of the lakes are still largely intact. Away from the lakes there are numerous cultivated fields, predominantly wheat, though some are abandoned. Rarely the surrounding plain retains sparse dry steppe and semi-desert vegetation. The shores and shallows of the lakes sustain an exuberant growth of reed.

Key biodiversity
Autumn counts in 2004 recorded 23 species of waterbird. The commonest species were Fulica atra and Anser albifrons (65.7%). Congregations of Podiceps cristatus and Phalacrocorax carbo were found on the fish-rich waters of Zhanybekshalkar lake, known to be the site of a small-scale fishing industry. The majority of the local Casmrodius albus population was concentrated in the large reedbeds of Shiyshalkar lake. The most impressive record was more than 600 Cygnus cygnus. In 2005 the lakes were visited twice by ornithologists (01.07 and 07.09.05). At these times, 7,800 individuals of 40 species of waterbird were counted, and the most numerous species was Aythya ferina (about 2,500 birds), followed by Fulica atra (1,400) and a combined flock of Anas platyrhynchos and A. clypeata (1,200 birds). The satisfactory state of the local fish populations was indicated in 2005 by the presence on the lakes of 240 Pelecanus crispus.

Non-bird biodiversity: The typical dry steppe faunal communities are supplemented in the areas of the shoreline depressions and marshes by wetland complexes. The natural vegetation complexes have been preserved on a small portion of the lakes’ environs: Stipa, Festuca and Artemisia are the main species. Groups of Karagana and Spirea sp are not uncommon.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Uyalyshalkar Lake System. Downloaded from on 30/09/2023.