Adji Lake ecosystem – conservation for future

Mikhail V. Banik

Adji lake is the only large wetland area along the western coast of Caspian Sea between Caspiysk, Russia and Apsheron Peninsula, Azerbaijan. This lake has great importance as a wintering and breeding site for globally threatened species such as the Marbled Duck and Ferruginous Duck. The area is currently under threat from factors such as fluctuating water levels, recreation and pasture pressure. Through a research, conservation and education programme focusing on the bird populations, this project aimed to conserve the Adji lake ecosystem and surrounding semi-desert and coastal habitats. The current status, habitat requirements and numbers of 3 globally threatened species (Pygmy cormorant, Dalmatian Pelican and Ferruginous Duck) and 2 vulnerable species (Mediterranean Spur-thighed tortoise and the Little Bustard) were investigated. The marbled Duck wasn't found but another globally threatened species - the White-headed Duck - was found. Breeding bird species composition and numbers in all habitat types were estimated. Assessment of factors threatening the environment indicated that reduced water level is the most immediate threat. Resulting form this work a draft conservation programme was developed, which includes lake water level regulation and prohibiting of stock grazing in dune habitats. Close relations between game management officers, regional environmentalists and local schools were established and this raised public awareness of the area and the ecosystem. Based on these results a joint Ukrainian-Russian follow-up expedition has been planned - 'Daggel 99' - which plans to extend the project range to cover several of the most valuable and important steppe and semi-desert lakes in Dagestan. The aims will be similar to the first expedition - studying habitat diversity and assessing human impact as well as initiating contact with local authorities - full proposal in 1998 folder. [Prelim report 1998 folder]

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