The site features wetlands of outstanding importance for migratory water birds, including globally threatened species such as the rare Siberian white crane, the Dalmatian pelican and Pallas's fish eagle. The wetlands are key stopover points on the Central Asian flyway for birds from Africa, Europe and South Asia to their breeding places in Siberia. The Central Asian steppes included in the site provide a valuable refuge for over half the region's steppe flora species, a number of threatened bird species and the critically endangered Saiga antelope, a species much reduced by poaching. Also included are two groups of fresh and salt-water lakes situated on a watershed between rivers flowing north to the Arctic and south to the Aral-Irtysh basin. Sediments cause the lakes to glow in a wide variety of greens and blues, while the steppes are hardly differentiated in this true-colour representation.
The image was taken on 29 July 2001 by the satellite Landsat-5 / TM and has a resolution of 30 metres. It covers an area of 80 by 160 kilometres.