|Location||Algeria, El Oued|
|Central coordinates||6o 10.00' East 33o 55.00' North|
|IBA criteria||A4i, A4iii|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Ornithological information 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.
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.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus||winter||1998||12,000 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|A4iii Species group - waterbirds||winter||1998||20,000 individuals||unknown||A4iii|
|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||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||-|
|Notes: Salt extraction.|
Other biodiversity There are said to be indigenous fish species in the saline ponds, but no further information is available.
Management considerations The site is largely inaccessible and hunting is more or less confined to the strips of dry land adjoining the two main roads that run either side of the site. Water-pollution and overgrazing are seen as potential threats to the ecological character of the site. It was declared a Ramsar Site in 2001.
References Hughes and Hughes (1992), Ledant et al. (1981), Morgan (1982).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Chott Merouane et Oued Khrouf. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 21/05/2013
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