Ayakaghytma lake and surrounding desert

Country/territory: Uzbekistan

IBA Criteria met: A1, A3, A4i, A4iii (2011)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 32,854 ha

Protection status:

Uzbekistan Society for the Protection of Birds
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2011 very high not assessed negligible
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
Ayakagytma is a drainage lake covering about 11000 hectares and is located at the bottom of the Ayakagytma depression to the south-east of the Kuljuktau ridge. The lake is surrounded by cliffs, up to 60 m high, which are closest to the shore in the north. Water is supplied through the drainage canal flowing into the lake from the south. The water level in the lake is not stable, the water is brackish and it does not freeze in winter. The shoreline vegetation is poorly developed and consists of scattered patches of reed and tamarisk. Macrophytes are most developed in the northwestern and southeastern parts of the lake (not far from the village) and at the canal mouth.The lake formed in the late 1980s. There is intense fishery activity with 7 fishing teams. There is a small village, Ayakagytma, on the shore of the lake, which is home to about 50 families. The local people are mainly engaged in animal husbandry and fisheries.The territory adjacent to the lake consists of extensive salt marshes in the west and east, and sandy desert with fixed dunes and clayey-gravelly desert in the east. The vegetation is very sparse and consists mainly of desert and semi-desert species. There are scattered groups of saxaul and Ammodendron canolyi, Calligonum bushes are common and sands are fixed by herbaceous vegetation such as Carex arenaria and meadow-grass. Most vegetation dies back by late May.The loess cliffs bordering the Ayakagytma depression are good for nesting birds of prey (Egyptian Vulture, Long-legged Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Saker Falcon, Eagle Owl, Little Owl) and other cliff-nesting species.The climate is characterized by mild winters with a predominance of cloudy weather. Winter daytime temperatures range from -1 to +5 °C and at night down to -5 °C (rarely to -15 °C). Precipitation usually falls as drizzle and sometimes snow, though the latter never settles. The summer is hot, very dry, with cloudy and clear weather. The air temperature during the day often rises to 40 °C and above and 20-25 °C at night. The summer heat is combined with very low humidity. Autumns are warm. Night frosts start in late October. Strong winds are frequent in February and June and are accompanied by dust and sand storms.

Key biodiversity
Due to having a rich food supply and remaining unfrozen in winter, Ayakagytma Lake is of international significance for wintering waterfowl (in accordance with the Ramsar criteria). According to the results of the winter aerial census by IWC on 10.01.2000, the lake held 23281 birds of 23 species. The extensive salt marshes adjacent to the lake attract many shorebirds. Together these make the lake of great value as a resting place for migratory wetland birds. Breeding species include Greylag Geese, Marsh Harriers, Mute Swans, Grey Herons, Red-crested Pochards, and several species of terns, gulls and waders. In 2006-2007 there were reports of Slender-billed Curlew Numenius tenuirostris. However, there is no reliable evidence to support these observations and a special survey in 2008 did not record this species.Surveys between 2000-2011 have recorded 197 bird species - 22 of them are included in the Red Data Book of Uzbekistan and 11 are globally threatened species.

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals recorded: Badger Meles meles, Fox Vulpes vulpes caragan, Tolai Hare Lepus tolai, Great Gerbil Rhombomys opimus, Yellow and Long-clawed Ground Squirrels Spermophilus fulvus and S. leptodactylus, Goitered Gazelle Gazella subgutturosa, etc. Reptiles: Desert Monitor Varanus griseus, Asian Tortoise Testudo (Agrionemys) horsfieldii, Sunwatcher Phrynocephalus helioscopus, Striped Racerunner Eremias lineolata and Rapid Fringetoed Lizard Eremias velox, Steppe Agama Trapelus sanguinolentus. In the western part of the shore the very rare Saxaul Haloxylon aphyllum occurs, with closer to the lake - Tamarisk Tamarix sp.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Ayakaghytma lake and surrounding desert. Downloaded from on 15/07/2020.