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Location Algeria, El Oued
Central coordinates 6o 10.00' East  33o 55.00' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii
Area 337,700 ha
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Site description The site lies about 250 km south of Constantine and c.80 km south of Biskra. It lies in the depression south of the Massif de l’Aurès (part of the Saharan Atlas) at the very northern fringe of the Sahara desert and is separated from the line of wetlands just south of Constantine (sites DZ010–DZ014 inclusive) by the Massif de l’Aurès. Chott Merouane et Oued Khrouf lies between the two roads leading south, the N48 to El Oued and the N3 to Touggourt and just south of the larger Chott Melrhir, from which it is separated by a strip of dry land about 4 km wide and by the N48 road. A series of small, seasonally flooded wetlands extends eastwards from Chott Melrhir into Tunisia. The northern part of Chott Merouane lies 40 m below sea-level. It is surrounded by arid steppe (sand and salt scrub) and is seasonally inundated, with the lowest parts remaining permanently flooded with saline water due to the outflow from Oued Khrouf. The inundated areas are fringed by Arthrocnemum, Limonium, Juncus, Salicornia, Sarcocornia, Scirpus and Suaeda spp. A shallow lake at the western edge of the site, which is fed by a spring and becomes contiguous with the inundated areas after heavy rain, contained filamentous algae and Potamogeton and Chara spp. in 1977. There is a small grove of date-palms to the north of the site, irrigated via a channel (containing filamentous algae and Phragmites communis) which leads from a small oasis at the northern end of the site. There is some hunting, but this appears to be largely confined to the strips of dry land adjoining the two main roads that run either side of the site. Other human activities include livestock-raising (mainly sheep), salt extraction and fishing.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. Numbers of wintering Phoenicopterus ruber appear to be increasing (from 1,000 in 1993 to 12,000 in 1998). The site also holds significant numbers of wintering ducks: more than 20,000 have been recorded. In 1999 on Oued Khrouf there were Anas penelope (8,500), A. crecca (1,500), A. acuta (1,200) and A. clypeata (4,500). These numbers, combined with 10,000 unidentified ducks on Chott Merouane in the same year, give a total of at least 35,700 ducks over the whole site. There are older records of wintering Tadorna ferruginea and Anas spp. and resident Chlamydotis undulata.

Non-bird biodiversity: There are said to be indigenous fish species in the saline ponds, but no further information is available.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus winter  1994-1998  1,634-12,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  1998  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2001 medium not assessed not assessed
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Pollution agricultural & forestry effluents - type unknown/unrecorded likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Chott Merrouane et Oued Khrouf Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 337,700 is identical to site 337,700  

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
fisheries/aquaculture -
hunting -
nature conservation and research -
other -
Notes: Salt extraction.

References Hughes and Hughes (1992), Ledant et al. (1981), Morgan (1982).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Chott Merouane et Oued Khrouf. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

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