Population size estimates of waders, gulls and terns passing through or breeding in Central Asia are very scarce, although highly important for global flyway population estimates as well as for targeting local conservation efforts. The Tengiz-Korgalzhyn region is one of the largest wetland complexes in Central Asia. We conducted surveys in this region between 1999 and 2008 and present estimates of population size as well as information on phenology and age structure for 50 species of Charadriiformes. The Tengiz-Korgalzhyn wetlands are especially important for Red-necked Phalaropes Phalaropus lobatus and Ruffs Philomachus pugnax with, respectively, 41% and 13% of their flyway populations using the area during spring migration. The region is also an important post-breeding moulting site for Pied Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta and Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa used by, respectively, 5% and 4% of their flyway populations. Besides its key importance as a migratory stopover site, the study area is a key breeding site for the Critically Endangered Sociable Lapwing Vanellus gregarius, the Near Threatened Black-winged Pratincole Glareola nordmanni and for Pallas’s Gull Larus ichthyaetus with 16%, 6% and 5% of their world populations, respectively. We identified 29 individual sites that held more than 1% of the relevant flyway populations of at least one species of Charadriiformes. Including data on other species of waterbirds (mainly waterfowl), there were 93 sites that qualify for Important Bird Areas (IBA). About half of them are protected in a state nature reserve, while an additional 20% are recognised as IBAs. Nevertheless, 28 important sites are currently not recognised as IBAs nor are they protected by other conservation means. These sites require conservation attention.
(Received December 05 2008)
(Accepted May 15 2009)
(Online publication March 09 2010)