Kurgaldzhinsky reserve – a picturesque nature conservation area in Central Kazakhstan. Extensive wetlands are habitats of curly and pink pelican, common flamingo, Savca and other rare birds. The history of the reserve began in 1968, and 50 years later, he and some other natural territories of Kazakhstan were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The reserved lands occupy the south-west of the Tengiz-Kurgaldzhinsky depression and have an area of 5432 m². On them stretched the bitter-salty drainless lake Tengiz, flowing fresh-water lake Korgalzhyn, other lakes and extended marshes. From the southeast of them flows the river Nura. Glady lakes are interspersed with thickets of reed mace and reed, channels, steppes and salt marshes. Scientists in the Kurgaldzhinsky Reserve have counted 45 species of rare and endangered plants, most of which are not found in other areas of Kazakhstan.
Natural land is of great importance for migratory birds, because in the Kurgaldzhinsky reserve there is a crossing of two leading ways of bird migrations – Central Asian and Siberian-South European.
Tourists come to these places to admire the picturesque landscapes and get acquainted with the protected fauna and flora. Day trips on ecological paths, bird watching, fishing and rafting on the Nure River are popular here.
The Kurgaldzhinsky Reserve regularly hosts the Flamingo Festival, which is supported by the Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation. The visitor center for tourists opened a museum of nature, where you can learn about the role of wetland systems in the conservation of biodiversity on our planet.
History of Kurgaldzhinsky Reserve
In 1957, a hunting reserve was established on local lands. Although his status was repeatedly changed, until 1968, the sanctuary was allowed to conduct economic activity. Then, on the initiative of scientists, a large ornithological reserve was created here, and its territory was constantly expanding. In 1976, the salt lake Tengiz was included in the famous Ramsar list, which describes all the unique natural reservoirs of the Earth.
Nowadays, the effects of exposure to nature on protected lands are leveled. Livestock farms and villages that existed here were liquidated 40 years ago. Today, industrial fishing is prohibited in the Kurgaldzhinsky Reserve, so the local nature is flourishing.
In Kurgaldzhinsky reserve there are 45 species of fish – gold and silver carp, ide, perch, roach, pike, bream, tench, pike perch, carp and others. In the steppes and reed beds there are dzungar hamsters, eared hedgehogs, vole mice, jerboas and hares. The abundance of small mammals provides constant food for predators – wolves, foxes, ermines, badgers, korsaks and steppe ferrets.
Wetlands around lakes like boars. In former times these animals were hunted, but the situation has changed a long time ago. For the last several years, the boar population has been keeping around 180-200 individuals.
Paradise for birds
The protected territory is spread out in the steppe and semi-desert zone, and the lake system formed here is the largest in Central Kazakhstan. The semi-dry climate, the abundance of water and food have created excellent conditions for migratory birds. Every year, millions of birds stop at the Kurgaldzhinsky Reserve.
Here the birds can rest and feed without fear of people. During migration through the reserve flies 219 species of birds. On the lakes you can see flamingos, pelicans, toadstools, herons, terns, gulls, ducks, cranes, falcons, and representatives of the extensive group of passer-shaped. Among them, there are 14 species of Red Book birds. For example, a rare red-breasted goose migrates through the reserve. It flies from Taimyr and after Kazakhstan turns to the shores of the Black Sea and into the valley of the Danube.
In Kurgaldzhinsky reserve there are several species of nesting birds that choose reed beds on the shores of lakes and ducts for breeding. Three species of birds, considered endemics of the steppe zone in the north of Eurasia, found shelter here. Wetland and areas of the steppe became home to the pryoshochka, the white-winged lark and the black lark. Of particular interest are the islands on Lake Tengiz, where the population of ordinary flamingos nestles up to 60 thousand individuals. It is curious that to the north of this place flamingos in the wild are not found.
How to get there
Kurgaldzhinsky reserve is located 130 km south-west of Astana city. The road goes through Sabynda. On it for 2-2.5 hours to the reserve can be reached by taxi.