Alakol State Nature Reserve was established on April 21, 1998 in order to preserve natural systems, flora and fauna of the delta of the Tentek River and unique population of relict gulls and other colonial birds on the islands of Lake Alakol. It is located within Alakol district of Almaty province and Urjar district of East Kazakhstan province.
The Alakol reserve's fauna has 2 species of amphibians, 24 species of reptiles, 22 species of fish, 269 species of birds, 63 species of mammals and about 1000 species of insects.
The Sasykkol-Alakol-lake system is located in a desert basin between the mountain ranges of Jungar Alatau and Tarbagatai in the south-eastern part of Kazakhstan, the area of 65 217.9 hectares. At the heart of the lowland is the system of major lakes of Sasykkol, Koshkarkol, Uyaly, Alakol, Zhalanashkol.
Under special protection here are relict populations of gulls, rare species listed in the Red Book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and other colonial birds that have found refuge on the islands of Lake Alakol.
Lake Alakol is located 347 meters above sea level. The lake is 104 km long, 52 km wide, its maximum depth is 54 m, and the average one is 21 m. The shores of the lake are the throng of black medical pebbles.
The central zone of the lake consists of three islands, which are a protected zone. This is the crossing point of all the important migration routes of birds flying from African and Indian islands. During the mass seasonal migration up to 5 million birds stay here for rest and feeding and the reserve plays a major role in their conservation. Most frequent of this feathered variety are the Red Book species such as pink and Dalmatian pelican, swan, white-tailed eagle, white-headed duck, demoiselle, bustard and others. Also the local avifauna can boast of the following amazing species: flamingos, Glossy Ibis, Little Egret.
Flora on the shores of Lake Alakol is represented by the total of about 35 species: cane southern, cattail angustifolia, buirush, clubroot, susak umbrellei, silvery scaly spike rush, sedge. Among the aquatic plants prevailing are hornwort,
duckweed, parrot’s feather and others. The total number of vascular plants seen in the reserve is around 270 species.
Lake Sasykkol is located in the north-west of Alakol basin, The lake is 50 km long, 15 km wide, the average depth is 3.3 m (maximum - 4.7 m), and the length of the coastline is 182 km, the total area of the lake is 736 square km. The shores of the lake are shrouded in thickets of reeds, cattail and reed grass. The lake neighbors on a marsh complex, which occupies more than 45 hectares.
Local water is rich in fish - white perch, naked osman, monochrome and sloth, lake and river marinka, carp, perch, common minnow, Balkhash marinka and others. In the Alakol coastal area one can see muskrats, water rats, spotted cats.
Mammals in the reserve are mostly rodents (ground squirrel, dormouse, jerboas, hamsters and others, 27 species of rodents in ail). The most typical representatives of the mammals are wild boar, lynx, fox, wolf, mountain weasel, weasel, ermine, mink, badger, otter, etc.