The IBA is situated 20 km to the north of Usharal and covers the southern corner of the Sasykkol lake delta of the Tentek river and a substantial part (25 x 25 km) of adjacent desert lying, mostly, within the Alakol State Nature Reserve. The IBA contains a mature natural complex of well-developed wetland systems: vast reedbeds amid the shallow open waters of the lake and a network of channels and marshes. In the upper parts of the delta there is a solid stretch of riverine forest running along the final integral section of the Tentek river and consisting mostly of Poplar, Willow and Maple. The adjoining land consists mostly of motley-herbage meadows, alkaline land complexes or Atriplex-overgrown desert.
The Tentek delta provides suitable habitat for a wide range of species, especially waterbirds. During the breeding season, the number of nesting birds can reach 10,000 individuals, while the total during migration may vary from 25,000 to 40,000 birds. The site is especially important for species of global and/or regional conservation concern including Pelecanus crispus, Aythya nyroca, Oxyura leucocephala, Platalea leucorodia and Otis tarda.
Non-bird biodiversity: Several species of mammals, some of which are important game animals, occur in the delat and surround areas including Sus scrofa, Capreolus pygargus, Vulpes corsac, Vulpes vulpes and Canis lupus. The site has thriving populations of Mustela nivalis, Mustela erminea, Mustela eversmanni and others small mammals.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The welfare of the site is affected by two major factors. One is an unstable hydrological regime caused by the partial diversion of the flow of the river Tentek for irrigation. The other, lesser, problem is disturbance caused by increasing cattle grazing.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Research work in the delta is being performed by the employees of the scientific department of Alakol Reserve, allotting a great share of their scheduled activities to monitoring waterfowl and shorebirds. In 2004-2007, with the support of WWF, there was an international project “Complex preservation of wetland areas primarily important for Global protection initiative as places of migratory birds’ habitation”.
The Delta of the Tentek river constitutes the core area of Alakol State Nature Reserve (Zapovednik) and was established in 1998. The reserve consists of two parts, and one of these - the Tentek delta part with an area of 16,453 ha - is included completely in the IBA. Generally, the PA overlaps with the IBA, but in this part the IBA contains the PA.
Habitat and land use
The area of the reserve is free of all economic development or activity bar scientific research and conservation. However, the majority of land surrounding the delta has either been reclaimed for small-scale agriculture or used for grazing.
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Tentek River Delta. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 06/02/2023.