Western Tian Shan Lakes – in the crosshairs of scientists

October 1, 2021

A team of researchers is studying the hydrobiological characteristics of Kara-Suu Lake. Photo: UNDP Kyrgyzstan

UNDP and the State Committee for Ecology and Climate together with the scientists from the National Academy of Sciences have carried out an ichthyologic study of high-mountain Kara-Suu and Kol Lakes located on the territory of the Alatai State Nature Park.

The experts have studied in detail the species composition of ichthyofauna in the Alatai lakes and monitored their inhabitants for 10 days. The research officers from the Ichthyology and Hydrobiology Laboratory of the National Academy have collected the primary materials to study the growth dynamics, the age, and the food of fish as well as to determine their fecundity. In its turn, the samples of the phytoplankton and the soil from the bottom of the lakes and the water from the inflowing rivers have been taken as a part of the hydrobiological analysis for further laboratory studies.

The study of the fishery resources and their habitat has preliminary revealed that 4 species of lake-river and freshwater fish inhabit Kara-Suu Lake. They are peled, marinka, osman, and trout, which belong to the coregonoid, salmon and cyprinidae families. The experts have also found out 2 species of lake-river and freshwater fish in Kol Lake. They are osman and trout.

Ernst Konurbaev and Aibek Sergek uulu, junior researchers of the National Academy of Sciences, during the research. Photo: UNDP Kyrgyzstan

According to Ernst Konurbaev, a junior research officer from the Institute of Biology under the National Academy of Sciences, “Kara-Suu Lake along with Son-Kul was selected as a place for stocking of peled and Amu-Darya trout in the Soviet times”. “It was not an accidental choice. The natural habitat in the lakes is favorable for these species of fish. They have comfortable temperature conditions and required food reserves. Now, as we see, there is almost no peled in Son-Kul because of the destructive actions of the poachers. Kara-Suu, which is now under protection and is a part of the Alatai nature park, has great capabilities to prepare peled eggs for further incubation and to stock Son-Kul”, - the scientist noted.  

UNDP donated a motor boat to the Alatai Nature Park to explore its high-mountain lakes and fight poachers. Taalaibek Amanov, field specialist of the UNDP / GEF project (left) and Bekbolot Yzak uulu, leading specialist of the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Protected Areas under the State Committee on Ecology and Climate (right) during the study of Kara-Suu Lake. Photo: UNDP Kyrgyzstan

This study is the second stage of the comprehensive research and monitoring of Kara-Suu and Kol Lakes organized within the frameworks of the UNDP/GEF project on Conservation of biodiversity of the Western Tian Shan. “We have two more cycles of the study ahead – winter and spring. The outcomes of the forthcoming studies together with those carried out last and this year will provide a comprehensive picture on the state of the ichthyofauna and the hydrobiological composition of the lakes. According to the results, we are going to develop a set of the measures to preserve the ichthyofauna and to improve its habitat”, - Taalaibek Amanov said, a field specialist of the UNDP/GEF project.

A team of researchers has identified fishing nets set by poachers. Photo: UNDP Kyrgyzstan

However, despite the taken measures to protect the local biodiversity, poaching still prevents reproduction of the fishery resources. During the lakes study, the research team has found 13 illegal fishing nets with the total length of about 400 meters, which have been used many times before. As a result, the illegal fishing nets have been collected and destroyed.

The UNDP and the State Committee for Ecology and Climate are implementing the project on Conservation of globally important biodiversity of the Western Tian Shan. Its main goal is to preserve the unique natural complexes and biodiversity, to contribute to the protection of rare and endangered species of fauna and flora. The project is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). For more details about the project, follow the link.

About the Western Tian Shan

The Western Tian Shan is a mountain system characterized by a high level of endemism and rich flora and fauna. The region is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List and is one of 34 global Biodiversity Hotspots. It is included in the rating of the world ecoregions Global 200 according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). 27 endangered species of animals inhabit, and 54 species of Red List plants grow on the territory of the Western Tian Shan.

About Kara-Suu Lake

Kara-Suu Lake is a mountain dammed lake located in Toktogul district, Jalal-Abad Province.  In terms of the territory, it is a part of the specially protected nature area – the Alatai state nature park. It is located at the altitude of 2,000 meters in the area of the Taktalyk ridge. The sizes of the lake are 6.5 by 2 km; the average depth is about 90 m. Schrenk’s spruce, barberry tree, rovan tree and other plants grow on the coast of Kara-Suu. The lake was formed in the ancient times after the fall of a part of the rock mass into the basin.