The IBA consists of a group of 4 lakes (Zharkol, Shoyndykol, Sabyndy and Taldy), positioned at the corners of a notional polygon with an area of c6 x 10 km, situated 25 km to the north-east of Arkalyk. The site is divided by the Shoiyndy-Arkalyk highway. The most important is the slightly brackish Zharkol Lake, nearly oval in shape, with an area of c3.8 x 4.2 km and depths of 1.5 - 2 m. Zharkol is 4 km north-west of the village of Shoiyndykol and 1.5 km from a seasonal lake of similar size – Shoyndykol - to which it is connected by means of seasonally dry channels. The northern and southern shores of the Lake have a few cliffs. The lake has one main seasonal inflow but the main water input, as is the case with all the other lakes in the vicinity, is provided by multiple seasonal run-offs. Lake Taldy (4 x 1.8 km) shows drastic fluctuations of water-level, sometimes completely drying-up. In years of plentiful water, when levels are more stable, extensive reedbeds develop. A similar regime is shown by the neighbouring Sabyndy lake (about 4 x 2 km). Although there are 4 lakes, in practice the IBA consists of three waterbody clusters: Zharkol-Shoiyndykol, Sabyndy and Taldy. Agricultural is well developed throughout the entire Region and fields are widespread and sometimes extend right to the shoreline.
The fields around the lakes provide good feeding areas for geese.
Habitat and land use
Since 1999 there has been a game-keeping facility in the vicinity of the lakes with effective management and substantial logistical support. The waters of the Lake were declared a No Disturbance Zone with all shooting forbidden including within a 2 km zone inland from the lake's shore.
The surrounding landscape is primarily agricultural (mostly wheat fields), and there is some low intensity cattle grazing.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
An unstable hydrological regime, largely climatic; illegal hunting; and disturbance by grazing livestock.