The site is a large freshwater lake in the Khangai Mountain Range. The lake is fed by 10 tributary rivers, including the Khoid Terkh and Urd Terkh Rivers. The lake has a single outlet: the Suman River. There are numerous bays and peninsulas along the northern shore, with a large bay, Jooroin Bay, in the south. The lake has a number of islands and the largest island is called Nuuriin Tolgoi (Chandmani Tolgoi). The lake starts freezing from late October and is frozen until mid-May. To the west, there are a number of smaller lakes (the largest being Khodoo Lake). There is larch-dominated coniferous forest in the surrounding mountains. The main land-use is livestock grazing. Several small-scale tourist camps operate to the northeast of the lake, and there is small-scale commercial fishing and sport-fishing. The dry steppe areas surrounding the lake are subject to overgrazing. There is concern about tourism development, particularly the development of a new camp close to the shore at ‘Swan Lake’, increase in boats, including motor boats, on the lake, and the impact of tourist vehicles. There is also concern about the drying up of small lakes in the west. Due to lower rainfall, the seasonal rivers feeding the lake have dried up. Part of the IBA is designated as Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake Ramsar Site.
Globally Threatened species occurring at the site include Swan Goose Anser cygnoides (EN), Pallas’s Fish-eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus (VU), Saker Falcon Falco cherrug (EN), Hooded Crane Grus monacha (VU) and Great Bustard Otis tarda (VU). The site supports at least 1% of the flyway populations of the following congregatory waterbirds: Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo; Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea; Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula; Common Merganser Mergus merganser; and Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus. About 4-5% of the global population of Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus occurs at the site.
Non-bird biodiversity: There are many species of beautiful flowering plants along the lake shore. Pallas’s Cat Felis manul (NT), Grey Wolf Canis lupus, Red Fox Vulpes vulpes, Corsac Fox V. corsac and Siberian Marmot Marmota sibirica (EN) can be seen at the site.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 17/02/2020.