Karkaraly Mountains owe their name to a Kazakh national headdress worn by girls and young women - karkara, which was artfully embroidered with beads, decorate with velvet, satin and had owl feathers on its top. Like resplendent karkara, the Karkaraly Mountains shine with every rainbow color.
The Karkaraly National Natural Park was established in 1993. The park occupying the area of 90,323 ha is located in Karkarala district of Karaganda province.
The park has 190 species of vertebrates, 45 species of mammals, 122 species of birds, 6 species of reptiles, 2 species of amphibians and 15 species of fish.
The territory of the park encompasses not high mountains of Karkaraly and Kent occupying the eastern part of the Kazakh Hummocks. The highest point of the Karkaraly Mountains is 1403 meters and that of Kent - 1469 meters. In the distant past, there used to be solid ridges that have deteriorated over time and got divided into many small ridges and hills. Springs running down the mountain gorges give rise to small rivers.
The largest river of the Karkaraly Mountains is the Karkaraly (with tributaries Tulkuli and Tasbulak), Kendara, Zharym, Keraly, Kopa, streams Aleksandrovsky, Ayushat, Kengir, in the Kent Mountains - Kyzylkenysh, Kadir, Ozen. There are beautiful lakes Shaitankol, Bassein, Kendara, Pashennoye, Ulkenkol here, also small reservoirs and water-filled pits in the granitic rocks.
The main tree species are pine, silver birch, aspen, willow and shrubs. A feature of the local flora is a big number of relic Ice Age plants, rare and endangered plants - 66 species.
The Red Book of Kazakhstan includes about 10% of the park's species: Alnus glutinosa (black), Karkaraly barberry, Epipogiurn aphyllum, drooping tulip, wintergreen umbrella. Dactylorhiza fuchsii (Druce) Soo, steppe peony, poppy thin and one of moss species - sphagnum smooth. Rare in the region are plants such as fraxineila angustifolia, ferns - bracken ordinary and Asplenium trichomanes.
In the Karkaraly Mountains there is a relic sphagnum bog - insulated and southernmost in Kazakhstan. The swamp of 1 hectare is overgrown with birches mixed with pines and covered with sphagnum moss.
The invertebrate fauna is underexplored and currently there is no accurate data on its species composition. Of animals entered in the Red Book of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the park has the arhar, black stork, golden eagle, eagle, booted eagle, steppe viper, Ignatov's minnow.
The basis of the mammalian fauna are rodents - redcheeked ground squirrel, gray marmot, prairie birch mouse, large jerboa, jerboa-jumper, Jungar hamster, Eversmann hamster, hamster, Streltsov vole, red-backed vole, musk rat, steppe lemming, water vole, common vole, narrow-skulled vole, wood mouse, house mouse, harvest mouse. Predators living here are the wolf, fox, dog fox, badger, pale ferret, stoat, weasel, manul, lynx.
Until 1940, one could meet bears in the park. Its largest mammals are ungulates: wild boar, red deer, roe deer, elk, argali.
Very diverse is the bird fauna. Of owls one can mention scops ow, little owl, long-eared owl, of daytime birds of prey - golden eagle, booted eagle, black vulture, common buzzards of hawks - goshawk and sparrowhawk, Montagu’s and marsh harriers, saker falcon, hobby, merlin, common and steppe kestrel. In the forest common is great spotted woodpecker, mistle thrush, tree pipit, chaffinch, great dove, cuckoo, oriole, nightjar, blackcock. In autumn one can see here rare vagrant species: nutcracker, Siberian Jay, black woodpecker gray shrike. The meadows and forest edges are home to reed-birds, warblers, redstarts, bluethroats, larks, and on the shores of lakes and river spills frequent are waders, wagtails.
Occasionally the black stork nests here, which is one of the most remarkable birds included in the Red Book. Out of other Red Book «dwellers» here lives eagle, booted eagle, osprey, saker, eagle-owl and swan goose and black-headed gull.
The park also has Red Book invertebrate species such as steppe scoliid wasp and saga steppe (big grasshopper). Rare for the region are also butterflies (Apollo, hawk eye, hawk popiar), beetles (odorous ground beetle, black mustache and root beetles), bee-carpenter and three kinds of earthworms.