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Ili River
Ili River
Origin Tekes and Kunges rivers
Mouth Lake Balkhash
Basin countries Kazakhstan and China
Length 1,439 km
Source elevation Tian Shan
Avg. discharge 480 m³/s
Watershed area 140,000 km²

Map of the Lake Balkhash drainage basin showing the Ili River and its tributaries

The Ili River is a river in northwestern China (Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region) and southeastern Kazakhstan (the Almaty Province).

It is 1439 kilometers long, 815 kilometers of which is in Kazakhstan. It takes its beginning in eastern Tian Shan from the Tekes and Kunges (or Künes) rivers. The Ili River drains the basin between the Tian Shan and the Borohoro (P'o-lo-k'o-nu) Mountains to the north.

Flowing into Lake Balkhash it forms a large delta with vast wetland regions of lakes, marshes and thicket vegetation.

Chinese region Edit

The upper Ili Valley is separated from the Dzungarian Basin in the north by the Borohoro Mountains, and from the Tarim Basin in the south by the main range of the Tian Shan. The main city of the region, Yining (Kulja), is located on the northern side of the river some 100 kilometers upstream from the international border. Until the early 1900s, the city was commonly known under the same name as the river, 伊犁 (Pinyin: Yīlí; Wade-Giles: Ili).

Kazakh region Edit

File:Kapchigai lake.jpg

The region of Kazakhstan drained by the Ili and its tributaries is known in Kazakh as Zhetysu ('Seven Rivers') and in Russian as Semirechye (meaning the same).

The Kapshagay Hydroelectric Power Plant was constructed between 1965 and 1970[1] near Kapchagay in the middle reaches of the Ili River, forming the Kapchagay Reservoir—an artificial 110 kilometer long lake north of Almaty.

Ili delta Edit

The Ili leads into the southeastern edge of Lake Balkhash, where it forms a large delta of about 8000 square kilometres. Historically it was inhabited by the Turan tiger, which is now completely extinct. Large populations of wild boar, which were a main prey base of the Turan tiger, can be still found in the swamps of the delta. There are also some roe deer and in the drier steppes to the south live saiga antelopes and goitered gazelles. A reintroduction of the extinct Buchara deer, which was once an important prey item is under consideration. Buchara deer live in the forests at the Kapchagay Reservoir. Another potential prey species, which is extinct in the area is the Asiatic wild ass. It could be reintroduced in the steppes adjoining the delta.[2]

Tributaries include Edit

References Edit

  1. Kezer K, Matsuyama H 2006:Decrease of river runoff in the Lake Balkhash basin in Central Asia. Hydrological Processes Vol. 20 Is. 6 Pp 1407-1423
  2. Hartmut Jungius (2010). Feasibility Study on the Possible Restoration of the Caspian Tiger in Central Asia. World Wildlife Federation

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