Shoshkaly Lake System

Country/territory: Kazakhstan

IBA criteria met: A1, A3, A4i, A4iii (2007)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 13,580 ha

Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity in Kazakhstan
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) Threat (pressure) Condition (state) Action (response)
2007 very high favourable not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring, please click here

Site description (baseline)
The lake system lies on the right bank of the flood valley in the middle reaches of the Ubagan river. It is located 10 km to the south of Karatal village, 45 km to the south-west of the district centre of Uzunkol and 155 km north-east of Kostanai. Until the mid 1980s the Shoshkaly Lake System represented a typical steppe zone, reed covered cluster of flood-plain lakes. However, following an increase in the level of the Ubagan river due to dam construction in its lower reaches, the system has been transformed into a single, large waterbody occupying an area of 3,000 ha. The surrounding landscape is a flat or gently undulated alluvial plain. The system is fed, almost exclusively, by spring melt-waters via run-off from the vast expanse of the Turgay rift valley and flooding by the Ubagan river. At present, the lake is 9.5 x 4 km in size and consists of a patchwork of reedbeds separated by substantial stretches of open water. Although lying in a region that has been traditionally used for wheat production, the salinity of the soil surrounding the lake has meant that it has not be cultivated - the closest fields are 10-15 km away. About 10-12 km to the east, where the Turgay valley begins to rise, there are woodland blocks of birch and aspen.

Key biodiversity
57 species have been recorded, the main breeding species being Fulica atra, Podiceps cristatus, P. griseigena, P. nigricolis, Anser anser, Anas platyrhynchos, A. strepera, A. penelope, A. acuta, A. crecca, A. querquedula, Aythya ferina, Netta rufina, Aythya fuligula, Cygnus olor, Egretta alba, Ardea cinerea, Phalocrocorax carbo (at the end of the 1990s there was a colony of about 1,000 individuals), Pelecanus onocrotalus, P. crispus, Larus ridibundus, L. canus, L. argentatus, Sterna hirundo, Chlidonias leucoptera, Numenius arquata, Limosa limosa, Vanellus vanellus and Glareola nordmanni. At the beginning of August 1998 dabbling duck numbers reached 40,000 birds. At the beginning of June 2000 numbers were in the region of 25-30,000, predominantly ducks but also large numbers of Anser anser (8 broods per every linear kilometre of surveyed shoreline). Moulting birds include large numbers of swans and diving ducks and northern breeding waders. During migration waterbird numbers reach 50-80,000 birds. At the end of September 1997, it was estimated that there were 1,295 birds per square kilometre, with the dominant species being Anas platyrhynchos (38%), A. acuta (18.1%) and Fulica atra (14.3%). Melanocorypha leucoptera breeds in small numbers on the saline areas of the adjacent steppe. Rare and endangered species breeding at the site include Pelecanus onocrotalus and P. crispus (250-300 breeding pairs in 2000), small numbers of Grus grus and Oxyura leucocephala, and Grus virgo and Tetrax tetrax on the steppe. Vanellus gregarius was found in August 1998. The environs of the lake are the feeding ground of a pair of Haliaeetus albicilla nesting in the nearby deciduous groves. Circus macrourus also breeds. On passage Aquila clanga is recorded occasionally. Migrating flocks of Branta ruficollis, Anser erythropus and Cygnus cygnus are not infrequent, with more rarely, Cygnus columbianus. In September 1998 there was a record of two Chen hyberboreus.

Non-bird biodiversity: About 30 species of mammal occur around the lake: Alces alces (straggler), Capreolus pygargus (common - 50 in February 1999), Sus scrofa (formerly resident but now only visiting groups), Canis lupus (8 observed in the winter of 1998-1999), Vulpes vulpes (common), Vulpes corsac (rare), Nyctereutes procyonoides (rare), Mustela eversmanni, Mustela erminea, Mustela nivalis, Meles meles, Marmota bobac, Lepus europaeus, Spermophillus erythrogenus (common), Ondatra zibetica (common), Arvicola terrestris (abundant), Microtus oeconomus, Microtus arvalis and Lagurus lagurus. The ichthyofauna comprises 8 species, of which three - Tinca tinca, Carassius carassius and Carassius auratus - had commercially viable populations. Common waterplants are Potamogeton sp., Ceratophyllum demersum and Myriophyllum spicatum. There are scattered stands of Salix sp. and Elaeagnus. The alkali areas support Halimione verrucifera and Artemisia nitrosa, while a prominent part of the meadow vegetation consists of Juncus gerardii, Leymus angustrus and Leymus ramosus. The elevated drier areas have Festuca valesiaca, Artemisia nitrosa, Spiraea hypericifolia and Artemisia procera. Damp depressions are overgrown with Stipa capillata. The area of the watershed consists of mixture of Stipa zalesskii, Stipa capillata and Galatella villosa.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Shoshkaly Lake System. Downloaded from on 31/05/2023.