Sarykamysh lake and surrounding Ustyurt Plateau

Country/territory: Uzbekistan

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

Area: 95,974 ha

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

Site summary
The proposed IBA includes Sarykamysh Lake, Ustyurt Plateau and the Eastern Cliffs (Chink) of Ustyurt. Sarykamysh Lake is a closed brackish lake located in the central part of the Sarykamysh depression about halfway between the Caspian and Aral Seas. It is a cross-border site and the Turkmen portion of the lake is already designated as an IBA (TM 022). The deep northern part of the lake (1000 km2) belongs to Uzbekistan and the remainder (about 3000 km2) to Turkmenistan. It is one of the largest water bodies in Central Asia (Nikitin, 1978). The Eastern Cliffs of Ustyurt are located along the west and north-east shores of the lake. Riparian vegetation at the northern end of the lake is poorly developed because of the recent rise in water levels. There are small areas of reed and reedmace in the shallow parts of the north and north-west shores. The east shore is completely devoid of vegetation due to being very deep. A wide (1 km) strip of shore separates the lake from the Ustyurt plateau (clayey soil in the east and sand in the north and west). Lake Sarykamysh has been surveyed rarely so there is not so much data available. The avifauna of Ustyurt is poor due to the extreme aridity and homogeneity of the landscape. However, among the nesting birds there are Houbara Bustard (globally endangered species ) and Pterocles alchata (nationally endangered and declining in Central Asia). The East Cliffs of Ustyurt has special importance for breeding birds of prey such as Egyptian Vulture and Saker Falcon (both globally threatened). Unfortunately, there is not much information on this region due to its remoteness. However, since 2007 three short surveys (spring 2007, summer and autumn 2010) have been undertaken. During these surveys 108 species of bird were recorded.

To CLP-SOS project "Survey of 3 potential IBAs in collaboration with students in Uzbekistan"

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Sarykamysh lake and surrounding Ustyurt Plateau. Downloaded from on 31/05/2023.