Khar-Us lake

Surface area: 297.265ha
Elevation: 1.157-1.452m

Protection status: Partially protected by Khar Us Lake National Park.

Site description: The freshwater lake, Khar Us, located 20km east of Khovd city. Khovd, Buyant and Tsenkheriin rivers flow into the lake and only Chonokhairkhan River flows out. There are about 20 large islands and the largest is Agbash island. The lake freezes over from November to April. Reeds grow abundantly along southern, western and eastern shores of the lake. Semi-desert, dry steppe ad desert steppe vegetation zones can be found along the lake. The surrounding area is used for livestock grazing, forage and vegetable farming. The major threats to the site are reed burning, soil erosion due to poor road network and desertification caused by soil degradation due to cutting of bushes and sagebrushes. Some negative effects occurring in the lake’s ecosystem since mid 1980s in relevance with introduction of Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus). There is a hydropower plant under construction at Chonokhairkhan River. The increase of water level because of dam, may cause the danger to the northeastern part of the lake with reeds to be destroyed. Nowadays, WWF is implementing a monitoring project at the dam site. The Khar us lake is included in Ramsar site.

Importance for birds: Globally threatened bird species such as Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus), White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala), Swan Goose (Anser cygnoides), Pallas’s Fish-eagle (Haliaeetus leucoryphus), Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni), White-naped Crane (Grus vipio) and Relict Gull (Larus relictus) occur at the site. Bird species of the Eurasian steppe and desert biome are abundant here. The following bird species are gather in flocks, exceeding 1% of their flyway populations: Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus), Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus), Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo), Great Egret (Egretta alba), White Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia), White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala), Whooper Swan (Cygnus Cygnus), Greylag Goose (Anser anser), Bar-headed Goose (A. indicus), Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea), Common Shelduck (T. tadorna), Gadwall (Anas strepera), Eurasian Wigeon (A. Penelope), Mallard (A. platyrhynchos), Northern Shoveler (A. clypeata), Northern Pintail (A. acuta), Green-winged Teal (A. crecca), Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina), Common Pochard (Aythya ferina), Tufted Duck (A. fuligula), Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula), Common Merganser (Mergus merganser), Common Crane (Grus grus), Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), Temminck’s Stint (Calidris temminckii), Great Black-headed Gull (Larus ichthyaetus) and Caspian Tern (Sterna caspia).

Special flora and fauna: Potanin’s Osman (O. potanini), Lake Osman (Oreoleuciscus angusticephalus), Small Osman (O. humilis) and Mongolian Grayling (Thymallus revirostris) of Western Mongolian endemic fish species live in the lake.