Aktepe Reservoir and Three Lakes

Year of compilation: 2006

Site description
Aktepe Reservoir, and adjoining lakes, are situated in the south of Uzbekistan, 22-25 km NE of the town of Termez and 7 km SE of the town of Jarkurgan, in the valley of the River Surkhandarya. It is situated in the sandy desert on the border of developed land. The area is hilly and the coastline is indented; in some places, it is precipitous. There are three islets with precipitous shores in the reservoir. Around the reservoir, there are shoreline thickets of reed, tugai forest and a sandy desert. A small canal flows into the SE part of the reservoir, feeding it with the water from the Amuzang canal. The average depth is 6.5 m. The water flow is regulated. There is a wastewater canal in the SE part of the reservoir. There is a chain of small lakes situated 7 km to the south of the reservoir, which include the so-called Three Lakes. The water level and salinity in these lakes have not been studied. In winter, these water bodies are not frozen. It is suggested that the IBA will include two sites. The first will cover the water area of the reservoir and the coastal strip 200-300 m in width (a buffer zone), which will stretch along the border of the Akteoe Natural Park of local importance (1,300 ha). The second site will cover the territory of the Three Lakes (1,300 ha). Although only a few sites have been formally proposed under the A3 biome-restricted criteria (for biome CA04b Eurasian Desert and Semi-desert), many of the IBAs in the Kyzylkum Desert region support populations of biome-restricted species and, effectively, form a network of sites throughout the area.

Key biodiversity
From 25 February to 15 May 1975, spring migration surveys were made in the flood plain of the River Surkhandarya, situated 20 km from Termez, by associates of the Institute of Zoology of the Uzbek Academy of Sciences. This recorded 160 bird species. This included the following globally endangered species: Aquila heliaca (migrating), Circus macrourus, Numenius tenuirostris (a sole bird on 5 and 6 May), Aegypius monachus (migrating) and Coracias garrulus (breeding). A flock of 20 migrating Greater Flamingo which is included in the National Red Data Book was also noted (Ostapenko, Kashkarov, Lanovenko, 1978). In recent years, 96 species (mainly waterbirds) have been recorded in the IBA area during winter and breeding. ervoir ktepe together with adjoining lakes is of high importance for wintering birds. Winter counts (2003-2006) resulted in the record of 55 avian species. There are 34 species of waterbirds among them. Six species included in the IUCN Red List are included, namely, Pelecanus crispus, Marmaronetta angustirostris, Aythya nyroca, Haliaeetus leucoryphus, Aquila heliaca and Tetrax tetrax. During the 2006 summer survey (7 to 10 June 2006), 69 species were recorded, of which 3 species are included in the IUCN Red List: Marmaronetta angustirostris, Aythya nyrоса and Coracias garrulous, as well as 4 species representing the biome 4b: Caprimulgus aegyptius, Hippolais rama, Parus bokharensis, and Emberiza bruniceps. Five globally endangered species were recorded there but in low numbers Marmaronetta angustirostris and Aythya nyroca are thought to be nesting in summer. Coracias garrulus is a common nesting species in this area. Falco cherrug and Falco pelegrinoides regularly visit the ВОТ area from adjoining territories for hunt. A flock of 30 Tetrax tetrax individuals was recorded in the neighboring fields in the spring 2005.

Non-bird biodiversity: Typical animals of the tugai forest include Wolf, Pheasant, Shikra, Turkestan Tit and Nightingale. Of vertebrates, many widespread fish species occur - rudd, cat-fish, pike perch, sazan, (bred as a result of cross breeding with carp) and introduced Silver Carp. Nutria inhabits the adjoining lakes. Grass snake, as well as marsh frog and common toad can be encountered near the water. Yellow souslik, small and large jerboas, tolai hare, corsac fox, grey monitor, Phrynocephalus interscapularis and Horsfield’s tortoise inhabit areas of sandy desert. National Red Data Book species recorded are the vulnerable, declining and patchily distributed insect species Tugay Blue (Glaucopsyche charibdis) and Turanga Sphinx (Laothoe philerema); the declining endemic subspecies of fish - Barbus capito, Sharpray (Capoetobrama kuschakewitschi) and Aral Goldside Loach (Sabanejewia aurata, included in the IUCN Red List, category DD); and the reptiles, grey monitor (Varanus griseus) and cobra (Naja oxiana included in the IUCN Red List, category DD).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The unstable hydrological regime is the major threat to the IBA's biodiversity. The waters are constantly diverted from the reservoir for agricultural needs. During our summer surveys, the water level sharply increased. Such an increase during the nesting period causes the flooding of nests and loss of eggs eg of Mallard, Marbled Teal, and colonial nesting terns and Glareola pratincola. The Nature Park only includes Aktepe reservoir leaving the adjoining lakes unprotected. As a result, intensive hunting of migrating and wintering waterfowl takes place. Fishing, which only takes place on the reservoir, is one of the major disturbance factors for nesting birds. Fish stocks in the reservoir are extensively exploited and fishermen report low catches and small fish. In 2006 it significantly intensified. The use of fixed nets is a direct threat for diving birds. Coastal areas are used as pasture, with overgrazing by cattle noted. This overgrazing leads to the degradation of parts of the adjoining natural sandy desert and a decrease in the numbers of biome-restricted species. Currently, the development of a joint project by the World Bank and the government of Uzbekistan is under way. This project is aimed at the improvement of water supply to the Amuzang canal and adjoining irrigated lands. This project may produce an effect on the hydrological situation of the proposed IBA.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
In 2003-2006, winter counts of waterfowl were carried out at the site within the project “Western Flyway International Wintering Count” (IWC) with the assistance of Wetland International. The results obtained indicated its international importance for waterfowl. In June 2006l, an ornithological survey of the site was carried out with the aim of identifying the species composition of birds during the nesting period. This survey was carried out the within the project “Most important ornithological territories of Uzbekistan".

Habitat and land use
The majority of the IBA is comprised of the natural reservoir and brackish-water wastewater lakes with the surrounding vegetation being a wormwood-ephemeral association. The shore of the reservoir is mainly devoid of vegetation and there are scattered islets. On some of these mixed colonies of Sterna hirundo, S.albifrons, Gelochelidon nilotica and Glareola pratincola are recorded. There is a small man-made tugai forest on the shore of the reservoir, the trees consisting of poplars, including Lombardy poplars, a wild poplar variety and oleaster. A clematis liana is occasionally recorded. In some areas, thickets of Iriantus sp. occur. In the southeastern part of the reservoir, there is a small strip of reed. The southern coast is the most gently sloping. In saline depressions, there are tamarisk thickets, as well as open salt marshes up to 300 m. in length. A sandy desert adjoins the western shore and juts into the reservoir in several promontories. Some of these are overgrown with large bushes of tamarisk, among which Iriantus sp. are occasionally recorded. Camel’s thorn and to some extent wormwood grow further out in the desert. The prevalence of camel’s thorn in the desert vegetation is connected with the constant grazing of goats and sheep. The surface of the lakes is overgrown with reeds and in some places with cattail (up to 40-50% cover). These are the major nesting areas of waterfowl. The sandy desert adjoins from the east. Intensive overgrazing by domestic cattle causes degradation of the desert. Plantations and settlements are in close proximity to the IBA in the west. Use of adjoining areas as an artillery shooting-range restricts the industrial activity in the area, and therefore decreases anthropogenic pressures.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Aktepe Reservoir and Three Lakes. Downloaded from on 21/03/2023.