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Location Algeria, El Kala
Central coordinates 8o 0.00' East  36o 48.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 8,900 ha
Altitude 0 - 5m
Year of IBA assessment 2001





Site description This site lies in the flood-plain of the Oued El Kebir and the Oued Bou Namoussa, just to the west of Lac des Oiseaux (site DZ005). It is the second-largest remaining freshwater marsh in Algeria, exceeded in size only by Marais de la Macta (site DZ017) and in winter the area of flooding and emergent vegetation is greater than that in La Macta. The marsh lies just above sea-level and is separated from the sea to the north by a sand-dune system through which the Oued Mafragh flows north into the sea. Water flows into the marsh from the east via the Oued El Kebir and from the south via the Oued Bou Namoussa and Oued Chourka Garaet. There is seasonal pattern of winter flooding and gradual drying out, with the marsh dry for at least three months between June and November. The water-level is usually less than 1 m and does not normally exceed 2 m. There is open water at the edge of the marsh, where it is grazed by cattle, and this extends into the middle in some places, but c.90% of the area is covered by emergent vegetation, dominated by Scirpus littoralis, S. lacustris, S. maritimus and Juncus sp. Phragmites communis is also widespread and Typha angustifolia, Glyceria fluitans, Carex sp. and Alisma plantago-aquatica also occur, as well as a national rarity, Butomus umbellatus. Submerged vegetation includes abundant Myriophyllum sp., Chara sp., Nitella sp., Ruppia sp., Callitriche sp., Zanichellia palustris and Ranunculus sp. There are scattered Tamarix sp. and Lemna minor. At the northern end of the marsh there is a saline area with Salicornia sp. and, at the base of the dunes, a strip of Alnus forest. There is considerable disturbance on the marsh, caused by large numbers and a high frequency of hunters shooting wildfowl in the winter. There is some pasture and cultivation and heavy grazing by sheep and cattle around the periphery.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Greylag Goose Anser anser winter  1978  8,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Eurasian Wigeon Mareca penelope winter  1978  27,500 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Northern Shoveler Spatula clypeata winter  1998  7,025 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris winter  20 individuals  A1  Vulnerable 
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca breeding  2001  frequent  A1  Near Threatened 
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala resident  present  A1  Endangered 
Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola breeding  1984  100 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  1978-1998  20,000-49,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
hunting -

Other biodiversity None known to BirdLife International.

References Boumezbeur (1992), Chalabi et al. (1995), Heredia et al. (1996), Morgan (1982), Skinner and Smart (1984), Stevenson et al. (1988), van Dijk and Ledant (1983).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Marais de Mekhada. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/08/2014

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