MN014
Khar Us Lake


Country/territory: Mongolia

IBA Criteria met: A1, A3, A4i (2009)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 140,400 ha

Protection status:


Site description
Khar Us Lake lies 20 km to the east of Khovd City. It is a freshwater lake, fed by the Khovd, Buyant and Tsenkher Rivers, and drained by the Chono-kharaikh River. There are over 20 islands in the lake, of which Agbash Island is the largest. The lake is frozen from November until April. There are extensive reed beds along the southern, western and eastern shores. Surrounding the lake is desert steppe, dry steppe, and semi-desert. At the southeastern edge of the lake is a high mountain, Jargalant Khairkhan, with mountain steppe vegetation. The site is used mainly as pasture for livestock. Problems at the site include burning of reeds, off-road driving and clear-cutting of vegetation, resulting in desertification around the lake. Muskrat Ondatra zibethicus was introduced to the lake in the 1980s, and is now having a negative impact on the lake ecosystem. The IBA overlaps with Khar Us Lake National Park Ramsar Site. There is an elevated concern about the construction of Dorgon Hydropower Project. Although the dam is outside of the IBA, the water level increase after the dam is built may cause some environmental problems. WWF is conducting a monitoring project at the dam site.

Key biodiversity
Khar Us Lake lies 20 km to the east of Khovd City. It is a freshwater lake, fed by the Khovd, Buyant and Tsenkher Rivers, and drained by the Chono-kharaikh River. There are over 20 islands in the lake, of which Agbash Island is the largest. The lake is frozen from November until April. There are extensive reed beds along the southern, western and eastern shores. Surrounding the lake is desert steppe, dry steppe, and semi-desert. At the southeastern edge of the lake is a high mountain, Jargalant Khairkhan, with mountain steppe vegetation. The site is used mainly as pasture for livestock. Problems at the site include burning of reeds, off-road driving and clear-cutting of vegetation, resulting in desertification around the lake. Muskrat Ondatra zibethicus was introduced to the lake in the 1980s, and is now having a negative impact on the lake ecosystem. The IBA overlaps with Khar Us Lake National Park Ramsar Site. There is an elevated concern about the construction of Dorgon Hydropower Project. Although the dam is outside of the IBA, the water level increase after the dam is built may cause some environmental problems. WWF is conducting a monitoring project at the dam site.

Non-bird biodiversity: Several fish species endemic to western Mongolia inhabit the lake, namely Lake Osman Oreoleuciscus angusticephalus, Potanin’s Osman O. potanini, Small Osman O. humilis and Mongolian Grayling Thymallus revirostris.


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Khar Us Lake. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/08/2019.