Natural Heritage

The nature of Karakalpakstan is marvelous and diverse. It is characterized by magnificent landscapes, rich natural resources and abundant flora and fauna. More than 400 animal species and thousands of different higher plants exist on the vast and beautiful territory of Karakalpakstan.

The nature of Karakalpakstan is distinctive due to its unique landscapes. The first one is the beautiful Amudarya Delta; the second is a northwest part of the Kyzylkum Desert with low mountains; and, finally, a third is a perfectly smooth eastern extremity of the gypsum desert in the Ustyurt Plateau.

The Amudarya Delta is famous for its wood and shrub forests (tugai) and reed beds. They provide moisture for the soil and formerly grew in the vast lower reaches of the Amudarya River. In addition, the delta is full of various channels, small lakes and wetlands areas.

The Kyzylkum Deser t is f lecked with characteristic dry and clay riverbeds of ancient Amudarya and Sirdarya tributaries. Today they are half-buried with sand. Recently, the Kyzylkum Desert merged with the newly formed Aralkum Desert in the northwest part. It comprises the entire territory of the islands» ridge from Muynak hills in the south to the Kulandi peninsula in the north.

From a geographical point of view the Ustyurt Plateau is a solid elevated plain that reaches the height of 300 metres with several blind drainage basins. The most famous of them are Barsakelmes and Assake-Audan.

Every natural landscape mentioned above has its own variety of flora and fauna typical of river valleys, and sandy and gypsum deserts. For example, the fauna of the Ustyurt Plateau is represented by various species of lizards and snakes. In different seasons the plateau becomes home for 200 bird species. Furthermore, the Kyzylkum Desert is inhabited by a great number of rodents and reptiles. Here you can find a saxaul jay, an bird that lives only in sandy deserts like Kyzylkum.

Karakalpakstan has an extreme continental climate. It is characterized by dry, hot summers and cold, mostly snow-free winters. Precipitation falls in very small amounts, mostly in winter and spring. Such climatic conditions form a certain lifestyle for the animal world. They especially influence those animals that inhabit the desert areas. Every animal species adapts differently to the lack of moisture and extreme heat. Some animals became nocturnal and are more active at night than during the day when they hide in burrows or bury themselves in the sand. Due to the lack of moisture, some animals do not drink water at all. Herbivores make up for moisture through plants, while predators drink the blood of their victims. Some representatives of fauna are more active in spring and go into hibernation in summer.

Karakalpakstan is a rich country in terms of natural resources. It has huge deposits of gas, iron, phosphates, bentonite and kaolin clays, sodium chloride and sodium sulphate, granite and marble. Its territory is also abundant in porphyrite that is used for producing quarry rock, crushed stone and hydraulic cement.

The Republic of Karakalpakstan has three conservation areas. They include the Lower Amudarya State Biosphere Reserve established in 1971 in the Beruni District, the State Reservation Saigachi and the State Ornithological Reservation Sudoche. The latter was founded in 1991 in the Muynak District.