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Lake Balkhash is disappearing

August 7, 2021

Lake Balkhash in southeastern Kazakhstan is shrinking. For fishermen like Erbolgan Erbosynov, it's an existential threat. Fish are everything to him: his livelihood, his culture, and his tradition.


Again and again, those fishing on Lake Balkhash are coming home with nearly empty boats. One reason for the meager catches is the Snakehead fish. It’s said that somebody released the predatory fish into the lake, and since then it has been multiplying rapidly and preying on other species. Environmentalists have another obvious explanation: They say the problem lies with the lake's tributary — the Ili River. In recent years, neighboring China has diverted more and more water from the Ili to irrigate agricultural land. Will Lake Balkhash suffer the same fate as the famous Aral Sea, which has now almost completely disappeared? A report by Alexander Prokopenko.

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DW’s on-the-ground reporters are always close to the action, be it covering international events or zooming in on some of the quirks of daily life. Camera always in hand, they report on the changes they see taking place in Germany, Europe and around the world.