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Location Algeria, El Tarf
Central coordinates 8o 30.00' East  36o 51.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 2,700 ha
Altitude 0 - 5m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Site description The site lies about 70 km to the east of the northern city of Annaba, c.5 km west of the Tunisian border and 10 km east of Lac Oubeïra (site DZ001). It forms part of the complex of wetlands included within the Parc National d’El Kala. The site consists of a marshy basin and a shallow (maximum depth 6 m), seasonal freshwater to brackish, eutrophic lake, bounded on the north by an extensive sand-dune system, through which the lake connects to the Mediterranean Sea via an artificial channel, the Oued Messida. The basin is surrounded by wooded hills, maquis and grazing land, with woodland including Taxodium distichum, Alnus glutinosa, Salix pedicilata, Populus alba and Fraxinus oxyphyla. There is a species-rich alder carr along the northern shore of the lake, which is regarded as one of the most important in North Africa. Most of the lake is covered in dense emergent vegetation, with a band of open water and dense submerged vegetation around the edge. Part of the marsh area dries out for a period of up to three months between August and November. There are isolated clumps of Tamaris sp. and emergent vegetation includes extensive beds of Scirpus lacustris, S. maritimus, Phragmites australis, Sparganium erectum, Iris pseudoacoras and Typha angustifolia. Submerged or floating aquatic plants include beds of Ceratophyllum sp., Ranunculus aquaticus and an invasive exotic, Eichhornia crassipes. Open water and drainage channels also contain Ceratophyllum, Myriophyllum, Sparganium, Potamogeton, Nymphaea (including an Algerian rarity, N. alba, discovered in 1984) and Trapa natans (also nationally rare).Attempts to drain the marsh, starting in the late nineteenth century, appear to have been largely unsuccessful, due in part to the fact that the bottom of the marsh is slightly below sea-level. The lake is one of the most important in the region due to its productivity. Cattle are grazed all around the edges of the lake and marsh, helping to maintain open water at the edges. Other human activities include eel (Anguilla anguilla) fishing and wildfowling, the latter very intensive at times.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Gadwall Mareca strepera breeding  1998  3,220 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Northern Shoveler Spatula clypeata breeding  1995  8,865 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca winter  1997  717 individuals  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca breeding  1976-1984  600 breeding pairs  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala resident  1976-1984  30 breeding pairs  medium  A1  Endangered 
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala winter  1999  256 individuals  A1, A4i  Endangered 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds breeding  1991-1999  20,000-49,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
El Kala National Park 80,000 protected area contains site 2,700  
El Kala UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve 76,438 protected area contains site 2,700  
Réserve Intégrale du Lac Tonga Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 2,700 is identical to site 2,700  

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
fisheries/aquaculture -
hunting -
nature conservation and research -
tourism/recreation -
water management -

Other biodiversity The mammal Lutra lutra (VU) is present in the lake.

References Boumezbeur (1992, 1993), Chalabi et al. (1985), Heredia et al. (1996), Green (1993), Jones (1993), Ledant and van Dijk (1977), Ledant et al. (1981), Morgan (1982), Stevenson et al. (1988), van Dijk and Ledant (1983).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lac Tonga. Downloaded from on 01/10/2014

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