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Expedition to Lake Ayakagitma, Kyzylkum Desert

On April 9-28, 2011 supported by the international program "Save our Species", the members of Uzbekistan Society for the Protection of Birds carried out a study of the lake Ayakagitma. This lake is situated in a natural depression surrounded by sandy dunes and saline marshlands in the central part of the Kyzylkum desert. The area of the lake is 11000 ha.

The field trip to Ayakagitma revealed 137 bird species, of which 16 species are included into the national and international Red Data Books. Of rare species, the following are noteworthy: Dalmatian Pelican, Ferruginous Duck, Pallid Harrier, Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit. This lake is surrounded by picturesque canyons, which were formed under the effect of extreme temperatures and desert winds. The Saker Falcon and the Egyptian Vulture, globally endangered species - make their nests in precipices.

The members of student clubs from Samarkand and Bukhara regions, who took part in the field trip, were taught to apply modern methods of identification and counts of birds. There is a small Kazakh village on the coast of the lake. The participants of the field trip conducted lessons with the participants and teachers of the village school. The members of two student clubs of the Uzbekistan Society for the Protection of Birds told the children a lot of interesting stories about birds, which they can encounter in the vicinities of their village.

A game was played with the schoolchildren to identify the fastest and most attentive bird watcher. They were divided into teams and given binoculars, and set off to search for paper birds fixed in different places around the school. The contest of pictures provided the schoolchildren with an opportunity of drawing and remembering those species that are included into the Red Data Book of Uzbekistan and need protection.

There is active fishing on the lake. Both local people and large fishery teams are engaged in fishing. Illegal fishing continues even in the period of prohibition as it is a significant disturbing factor for nesting birds.

The field trips to Lake Ayakagitma were the final stage of the project SOS "Survey of 3 potential Important Bird Areas in collaboration with students in Uzbekistan". This project in Uzbekistan made it possible to study together with the network of student clubs four IBAs - the natural areas important for the conservation of biodiversity - the gorge Shavazsai in western Tien Shan, a saline lake Ayakagitma in the Kyzylkum desert, lake system Akpetki in southern Priaralie and Lake Sarykamysh in the southern part of the Plateau Ustyurt, and carry out educational work with local community.

Supported by: BirdLife International RSPB Darwin Initiative

© Compiled by Oleg Kashkarov
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Last modified: 18.05.2011