Protecting the waterbirds of Son Kol and Chatyr Kol Alpine lakes in Kyrgyzstan, with a focus on the mountain goose as a flagship species

Almaz Oskonbaev

Kyrgyzstan is a country dominated by fragile mountain ecosystems that support a wide range of fauna and flora, particularly birds. The lakes of Son Kol and Chatyr are two of the main stopover water bodies for migrating birds in the Kyrgyz Republic. Both sites are also important for breeding birds in the summer and have been designated as Protected Areas. However, due to a lack of funding from the central government, very little real protection is offered to either site. Over recent years there has been an increase in disturbance at both sites as a result of fishing, local grazing and natural erosion of islands in the lake, and lack of local awareness, thus reducing nesting are for certain species. The principal aim of this project is to conserve the birds and habitat found at Son Kol and Chatyr Kol lakes, to ensure that both sites remain viable breeding and stop-over areas for migrating birds. In order to achieve this, the project will provide reliable base-line data on species present, their distribution and overall status throughout the year at both sites and establish a monitoring plan; conduct a series of land-management interventions; increase the understanding of local communities about the importance of the area; and contribute towards the designation of the sites as Important Bird Areas.