The site is located in the central part of the Northern Kazakhstan region, very close to the major interregional motorway from Astana and Kokchetav, approximately midway between Astrakhanka and Rublyovka. The lake is 65 km to the south of the regional centre of Petropavlovsk, close to Aralagash village. The lake lies in the outer southern section of the large Smirnovsky State Nature Preserve, and is part of the expansive lake country of the southern West-Siberian Lowlands. The major landscape type is forest-steppe. About half a century ago, the region was subject to agricultural development with more than half of the virgin mesophylic steppe being ploughed and cultivated. As a result, nowadays the majority of the land around the lake is crop fields. The remaining fragments of steppe and a few low-lying meadow plots are used as pasture. Despite its small size, the lake is important as an intermediary resting site for large numbers of migrating waterfowl, a situation assisted by the closeness of the crops providing good feeding and by the relative protection provided by the Reserve status.
Owing to its ecological characteristics, geographical location and the surrounding agriculture, the moderately sized Terenkol lake has always been a reliable stop-over site for many hundreds of thousands of migrating waterbirds crossing the region. In addition to the occurrence of several globally threatened or rare species (Branta ruficollis, Melanitta fusca, Cygnus cygnus, Anser erythropus, Haliaeetus albicilla, Casmeroides albus and Grus grus), the site is extremely important for the very large number of common waterfowl it supports, many of which are intensively exploited by man as quarry species and the site provides an important refuge for maintaining huntable populations. The site is also important for diurnal birds of prey, the commonest being: Circus cyaneus, Circus aeruginosus, Milvus migrans and Buteo buteo. Aquila chrysaetos occurs in summer and, especially, autumn.
A recent attempt (2007) at verification of the appropriateness of conferring the A4iii criterion to the site, especially for Anser albifrons, experienced a setback due to unseasonal meteorological conditions. A protracted spell of mild weather resulted in geese passing straight through the region, rather than pausing to roost and feed.
Non-bird biodiversity: The mammal fauna around the site appears to be poorly diversified, with murine rodents being the most numerous and including Apodemus agrarius and Microtus arvalis, with, in the wet habitats, Ondatra zibethica and Arvicola terrestris. Erinaceus europaeus, Vulpes vulpes, Lepus timidus, Lepus europaeus and Mustela eversmanni are also often encountered. Cervus elaphus sibiricus, Sus scrofo nigripes, Vulpes corsac and Martes martes also occur.
The dominant emergent vegetation is Phragmites australis which occurs in some areas together with Typha angustifolia and Scirpus lacustris. Some muddy shoals are dominated by Carex sp. A few plots of steppe landscape, featuring an assortment of rich-herbage-motley-turf-grass associations consisting mostly of Stipa zalesskii, Festuca valesiaca, Phleum phleoides, Filipendula stepposa, Veronica spuria and Onobrychis sibirica still remain. The isolated stands of deciduous forest comprise, in the major part, of a few species of birch (including Betula verrucosa and B. pubescens) and aspen, with an understorey of Rosa sp.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The transformation of the steppe to agriculture has affected bird populations in two ways: birds, especially Anser anser, Anser albifrons, Anser erythropus, Branta ruficollis and Anas platyrhynchos, now utilise the scattered grain on the surrounding fields, but there is disturbance from frequent stubble fires and regular agricultural activities. Illegal hunting probably reduces the number of waterfowl that could use the site but pressure is considerably lower than it could be because of the protected status of the site.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
General inspection of the site and periodic monitoring of important game species is carried out annually by staff from the Smirnovsky Zakaznik as prescribed by the management plan.
The proposed IBA is included within the Smirnovsky State Nature Reserve. The Reserve is situated in the central part of the Northern-Kazakhstan Region incorporating Kyzylzhar, Akkaiyn and Esyl districts. Wetlands constitute about 2.6% of the area. Regulations exclude all hunting activities, bar the organized control of vermin. Unfortunately, primarily because of the large size of the area and understaffing, poaching is not uncommon, targeting the local roe deer populations and the complex of water-bird species in particular, plus Lyrurus tetrix, Perdix perdix and Lagopus lagopus.
Habitat and land use
The majority of the land adjacent to the lake is used for local agriculture, either crops, or small scale cattle grazing or hay production. Due to its reservation status the site is not assigned to any hunting collective. There is no fishing.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Terenkol Lake. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 20/01/2021.