Mashankul and Khojakul lake complex

Site description (2015 baseline):

Site location and context
The area of IBA is 5070 hectares. The lake complex consists from Khojakul and Mashankul lakes. The Khojakul lake is located on the territory of Muynak district, and Mashankul lake - on the territory of the Kungrad district. Nearest settlement “Doslyk” is located in 8 km to the northeast of the IBA, and the Mashanaul settlement in 11 km to the south.
The lakes have different sources- Khojakul lake fed by the waters of Ustyurt collector and partially from the Suenli channel (This provides a relatively low salinity of the water in the lake), and the Mashankul lake fed from the Kattagar channel. The maximum depth of the Khojakul lake is 3.5 m, and the Mashankul lake is 5 m. 

Key biodiversity
The 89 bird species were registered in 2012-2013 on this system, including 63 nesting birds. Among them 10 included in National Red List and 2 (Ferruginous Duck and Roller) included in IUCN Red list. This area is a key nesting place for waterbirds in this region, because of the numerous thick reeds which surrounded water and open shorelines. The Whooper Swan, herons, cormorants, coot, grebes, Glossy Ibis, Ferruginous Duck, other ducks and waders nest here. In reeds the Black headed Penduline Tit nests, on adjacent areas the Pheasant nests. During migration the big congregations of waterbirds were observed here, the dominant species are Coot, Red crested Pochard, Green Sandpiper.
It is important to continue the observations on this area to complete full ornithological situation. 
There are 3 criteria - A1, A4i and A4iii. Criterion A1: Ferruginous Duck. Criterion A4i: Glossy Ibis. Criterion A4iii: During the spring survey in March 2013 on the territory of the proposed IBA the 22,023 waterbirds was observed, among the species the dominant was Coot (more than 8 thousand). According to oral reports of local fishermen during migration on the lakes more than 25-30 thousand waterfowl are concentrated (Mallard, Red crested Pochard, Pochard, Ferruginous Duck.
The main types of vegetation here are hydrophytes and halophytes. This lake system almost universally characterized by a high density of plants. Reedbeds constitute 65-70% of the water body, mostly on the coastal zone. Algae (hara, several species of pondweed) amounts to 20 to 40% of the area of the reservoir.
The main commercial fish in the system - carp, silver carp, snakehead.
There are numerous following mammals - wild boar, jackal, muskrat, badger, are the subject of commercial hunting. On the banks, among the thickets of tamarisk hares and foxes are numerous .

Habitat and land use
The open water is about 30% of porposed IBA. The lakes have the following character of coastline - brokenness sloping, steep, and consists of many open water surface (Maral Aydin, Koptinkul, Asan oh, Kara Aydin, Aydin takyr ). About 
40% of territory is of dense reeds (reeds 80% and cattail 20%). Other adjacent territory - 10% sandy desert, 20% low bushes. This area is over gazed, but general condition of habitats is satisfactory

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
1. Drought - the main limiting factor for the porposed IBA, regularly leads to a complete drying up of water bodies. In addition, on the west side of the Mashankul lake the collector "Chinese construction" is much deeper than the lake. During low water all the waters of the lake go to the collector.
2. The coastal areas of most lakes are used as pastures. In particular, the spring fish spawn in shallow water, and grazing cows and horses trample it.
3. One of the threats is prohibited by clogging reservoirs disposable Chinese fishnets works that cause the death of aquatic diving birds, and also create a persistent pollution of water bodies in the coastal line.
4. Poaching - one of the main threats to the biodiversity of the lakes. During the expedition to the lakes observors met hunters in cars, every day shots were heard.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
For the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources can solve the following problems.
1. Create conditions for the normal flooding of the system,
2. To strengthen control over poaching.
3. Stop using prohibited fishing plastic disposable nets by prohibiting their sale, rise awareness among fishermen.
4. Stop spring cattle grazing in shallow waters for spawning fish. This issue is within the competence of local government authorities.
5. The work to inform the local population, hunters and fishermen on the rational use of hunting resources, to acquaint them with a list of forbidden birds prey, , etc.
All this is necessary to prevent the threat and develop a mode of use of biological resources and to prohibit any hunting in the spring.

Protected areas
This area does not have a conservation status

Land ownership
State grounds, the territory has tenants. There is no data on them.

Site access / Land-owner requests
Proposed IBA has great fishery value, also as hunting place. Open areas use as pastures (30% IBA).

In October 2012 the members of Karakalpakstan branch of UzSBP with finance support of IFAS (International Fund of Aral Sea) were carried out a research project "Study of fauna of unstable reservoirs in Southern Aral Sea Region."
In March and May 2013 they were carried out a research project "Ornithological study of lakes and Mashankul and Khojakul during spring migration and nesting" with financial support of IFAS.
Both studies were the basis for the description of the proposed IBA.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Mashankul and Khojakul lake complex. Downloaded from on 02/10/2023.