Zhylandy Lake

Country/territory: Kazakhstan

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

Area: 3,410 ha

Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity in Kazakhstan
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2013 near favourable medium not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring, please click here

Site description (2007 baseline)
The site is located on the right bank of the Ishym river valley in the Akkaiyn district of the Northern Kazakhstan region. Lying on the notional line connecting the major Astana-Kokchetav interregional motorway with the north-north-easterly course of the Ishym river, Zhalyndy Lake is positioned 25 km to the west of the former and approximately 20 km to the east of the latter. The waterbody occupies the central part of the area between Dmitriyevka and Zhanalyk. Another two large settlements, Ortalyk and Alka, connected by the line of a major country road, lie to the north of the lake. The lake is situated close to the southern boundary of the large Smirnovsky State Nature Preserve. The IBA forms part of the expansive lake country occupying the entire outer edge of the southern West-Siberian Lowlands. The major land form and vegetation is forest-steppe. About 50 years ago, during the process of agricultural development, more than half of the regional virgin land (mesophylic steppe) was ploughed and converted to agriculture. As a result, nowadays, the major part of the area around the lake is crop-fields. The remaining fragments of steppe and a meadow depressions are used as pasture. Very large numbers of migrating waterfowl use the area, benefitting both from forgaing opportunities on the fields and relative protection from the preserve status. Despite its relatively small size, Zhylandy is one of the more important lakes in the region. The lake has almost solid reed cover over 85-90% of its surface. The dense reed benefits some breeding species but the lack of open water reduces the number of passage birds.

Key biodiversity
Owing to its ecological characteristics, special geographical position and the particular agriculture on the surrounding land, the moderately sized Zhylandy lake has always been a reliable stop-over site for many hundreds of thousands of migrating waterbirds crossing this area. In addition to supporting several globally threatened or rare birds (Branta ruficollis, Melanitta fusca, Cygnus cygnus, Anser erythropus, Haliaeetus albicilla, Casmerodius albus, Grus grus and others), the site is important for the large number of common species of waterfowl it holds, many of which are being intensively exploited by man for hunting interest. Without such refuges, the presently plentiful game species might be severely reduced in number in a matter of years. Owing to its well-developed and expansive reedbeds the site is favoured by many breeding waterbirds. A recent attempt (2007) to verify the appropriateness of conferring the A4iii criterion on the site for the regular occurrence of species such as Anser albifrons was thwarted because of unseasonal meteorological conditions. A protracted spell of mild weather encouraged geese to pass straight over the region rather than settling which is the normal trend.

Non-bird biodiversity: The mammal fauna is poorly diversified. Murine rodents are most abundant and include Apodemus agrarius and Microtus arvalis and, in the wet habitats, Ondatra zibethica and Arvicola terrestris. Erinaceus europaeus, Neomys fodiens, Lepus timidus, Lepus europaeus, Mustela erminea and Mustela eversmanni are often encountered. Capreolus pygargus, Vulpes vulpes and Vulpes corsac are encountered occasionally.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Zhylandy Lake. Downloaded from on 05/12/2023.