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Khurkh-Khuiten

Geographical Coordinates
48°18’ N, 110°34’ E

Geographical Location
Khentii Province. The Khurkh and Khuiten River basin is situated in the transition zone between Mongolian forest and steppe zone.

Area:   42,940 ha

Altitude: 1091-1361 m

Wetland Type
Ramsar classification -  M, L, N, Tp, W

Overview
The Khurkh and Khuiten River basin is situated in the transition zone between Mongolian forest and steppe zone. The Lakes and its surrounding wetlands are one of
important breeding and resting places for a great variety of water birds.
Created on March 22, 2004.

PHYSICAL FEATURES
The Khurkh River is a main tributary of the Onon River and it is 190 km long, and catchment area is 6150 km2. The area also contains Ulaan toirom, Ulaan Unduriin Lake, Bayanburd Lake, Khukh Lake, Khulst Lake, Ikh Burd Lake, Khulstiin Burd Lake, and Khulst toirom. The river valley is 15—20 km wide along the mid and end portion, and completely separated from the forests and flow to the steppe and ended in small lakes in the valley. Lakes along the Khuiten River basin such as the Khukh lake, Ulaan Undur lake, Khulst lake, Ulaan toirom, and Ikh Burd. The climate is humid cold with cool winters and summers and high precipitation and snowfall. Floods happen during
the times when mountain snow melts and rainfalls during summer

ECOLOGICAL FEATURES
Vegetation is composed of mainly steppe plant species and forests in the northern slopes of the mountains. In terms of vegetation and geographical zones, it includes in the Khentii mountain taiga zone, and Daguur-steppe mountain forest steppe zone. There are some rare plants in the wetlands. The following plant species are included in the Mongolian Red List of Threatened Species: Marsh Saxifrage (Saxifraga hirculus), Pink Peony (Paeonia anomala), White Peony (Paeonia lactiflora) and Common Valerian  (Valeriana officinalis).

NOTEWORTHY FAUNA
There are 167 species of birds of 91 genera from 37 families of 15 orders, inhabiting the Khurkh-Khuiten Valley Lake territories. The site is the habitat of many threatened and endangered species from the southern taiga, Central Asian steppe, and forest steppe of Daguur-Manjuria. The region is a breeding habitat of variety of rare and common bird species that highlights the importance of the inclusion in Ramsar convention. It supports 11% of the biogeographical population of White-naped Crane (Grus vipio), 3% of Eurasian Crane (Grus Grus), 1% of Demoiselle Crane (Anthropoides virgo), 15% of Black Stork (Ciconia nigra). Taimen (Hucho taimen), Haitej sculpin (Mesocottus haitej), Lamprey (Lampertra jaronical) from fish species, River crayfishes (Cambaroides dauricus) from Agnathans species, Molluscs (Dahurinaia dahurical), River mussels (Middendorffinaia mongolica) from Molluscs species, Siberian Salamander (Salamandrella keyserlingii), Asiatic Grass Frog (Rana chensinensis) from Amphibians species included in the Mongolian Red List of Threatened Species (1997) are found from this area. 54 species of mammals from 6 orders are recorded in the site. Among them Daurian Hedgehog (Erinaceus dauricus) is included in the Mongolian Red List of Threatened Species (1997), Gray wolf (Canis lupus), Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx), Manul (Felis manul) are also found.

HUMAN USE
Semi-nomadic, animal husbandry is the principal livelihood of the local population. Livestock mainly consists of sheep, goats, cattle and horses. Industry is not developed in the basin. From the river valleys, grass prepared as fodder for livestock during winter. Timber is also prepared from the forests for fuel. There is no crop production or industry near by the wetlands.

THREATENING AND DISTURBING FACTORS
The lake area is reducing which is the main ecological concern in the area. The main land use is for animal husbandry that results in overgrazing and pollution.

CONSERVATION MEASURES
Research hub has been established in 2014 where complex research is being done on rare bird species, especially cranes. Awareness raising and communications activities are undertaken, for example the Crane festival is held on annual basis since 2014, organized by the Wildlife Science and Conservation Center of Mongolia.

SOURCE
© Wetlands International, 1998
Updated by WWF-Mongolia in 2016