email a friend
printable version
Location Algeria, Illizi
Central coordinates 8o 30.00' East  24o 55.00' North
IBA criteria A3
Area 8,000,000 ha
Altitude 1,100 - 2,158m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Site description The site lies in the far south-east of the country, in the Sahara desert, less than 200 km from the border with Libya (to the east) and c.500 km north-east of Parc National de l’Ahaggar (site DZ029). The Tassili N’Ajjer consists of a high limestone plateau outlier to the north-east of the A’Haggar Massif (see site DZ029), which reaches a maximum height of 2,158 m at Mount Afao. The climate is typical of desert and mountain with large diurnal temperature ranges. Maximum temperatures do not usually exceed 32°C and do not usually drop below freezing, although frosts and snow have been recorded from higher ground. The mountain slopes drain principally to the north-east through deep gorges running down to the plain. There are many oueds and over 300 permanent, and many temporary, ponds or gueltas on the Tassili N’Ajjer plateau, with flowing water and waterfalls following rain, and springs (including a hot spring) in some areas. The karstic valley of the Oued Iherir lies at 1,100 to 1,400 m and has 45 permanent gueltas, intermittent streams, marshes, lakes and freshwater springs. Rainfall is very variable, with the annual mean probably c.25 mm, but reaching 150 mm locally in some years. Salinity in the gueltas varies with rainfall and the degree of flushing.

There is a variety of emergent and submerged vegetation in the various water-bodies; the lake and many watercourses are fringed with beds of Typha capensis and Phragmites australis and filamentous green algae are found at the edges of many of the gueltas. Tree species found along the oueds include abundant Nerium oleander and Tamarix gallica, with Acacia nilotica, Hyphaene thebaica, Olea laperrinii and planted Phoenix dactylifera in the valleys. There is a resident human population in the valleys, estimated at several thousand people, but probably fluctuating greatly. Activities include cultivation of palms, figs and vegetables on terraces; grazing of camels, goats and sheep; fishing in the gueltas; collection of Typha for thatching and mat-making and some tourism. The latter is based particularly on the cave paintings on the valley walls, evidence of some of the earliest inhabitants of the Sahara. There are visitor facilities and entrance fees are charged: 8,200 people visited the Park in 1990. Tourism diminished drastically between 1992 and 2000, but is now said to be recovering.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 2 for key species. There are records of passage Crex crex, said to be abundant during autumn passage in the 1960s, but with few recent records from anywhere in Algeria. This is one of only two IBAs in Algeria (together with Parc National de l’Ahaggar, site DZ029) from which the biome-restricted Pterocles lichtensteinii and Alaemon alaudipes are recorded.

Non-bird biodiversity: The site has a diverse invertebrate fauna including relict species and representatives of both Afrotropical and Palearctic realms. There are also fish species from both these realms (including Barbus spp., Clarias spp. and Tilapia sp.), a number of amphibians have been recorded and Crocodylus niloticus (now extinct on the site) occurred until at least 1924. Mammals include Felis chaus and F. margarita.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Spotted Sandgrouse Pterocles senegallus resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Crowned Sandgrouse Pterocles coronatus resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse Pterocles lichtensteinii resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Pharaoh Eagle-owl Bubo ascalaphus resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Pale Crag-martin Hirundo obsoleta resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Greater Hoopoe-lark Alaemon alaudipes resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Bar-tailed Lark Ammomanes cinctura resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Desert Lark Ammomanes deserti resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Fulvous Chatterer Turdoides fulva resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Mourning Wheatear Oenanthe lugens resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-tailed Wheatear Oenanthe leucopyga resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Passer simplex resident  2000  present  A3  Not Recognised 
Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githagineus resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

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

Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
La Vallée d'Iherir Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 6,500 protected area contained by site 6,500  
Tassili N'Ajjer National Park 7,200,000 protected area contained by site 7,200,000  
Tassili N'Ajjer UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve 7,200,000 protected area contained by site 7,200,000  
Tassili n'Ajjer World Heritage Site 7,200,000 protected area contained by site 7,200,000  

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
fisheries/aquaculture -
nature conservation and research -
tourism/recreation -
other -
Notes: Collection of Typha for thatching.

References Hughes and Hughes (1992), IUCN (1991), Ledant et al. (1981).

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Parc National du Tassili N'Ajjer. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife