|Location||Egypt, North Sinai|
|Central coordinates||33o 0.00' East 31o 9.00' North|
|IBA criteria||A1, A4i, A4iii|
|Altitude||0 - 10m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Ornithological information See Box for key species. Lake Bardawil is of moderate importance for wintering waterbirds. A total of 26,968 waterbirds were counted in the winter of 1989/90 (a proportion of these were counted within the limits of Zaranik Protected Area, IBA EG002). Only Phalacrocorax carbo and Phoenicopterus ruber winter in significant numbers. Up to 30,000 of the former species were estimated to be present at Bardawil in winter 1993. The importance of Bardawil as a stop-over and staging site has not been investigated thoroughly, but there are indications that at least a portion of the massive numbers of migrants passing through Zaranik, particularly in autumn, utilize some of the habitats available at the lake. Diversity of breeding species is very low. However, two of the six species known to breed in the immediate vicinity of the lake, Sterna albifrons and Charadrius alexandrinus, occur in internationally important numbers.
Site description Lake Bardawil is a shallow (50–300 cm deep), hyper-saline lagoon occupying much of the Mediterranean coast of Sinai. It is separated from the sea by a sandbar that varies in width between 100 m and 1 km. The lake shore is mainly bare sand, with scattered saltmarsh and mudflats. The sandy lake-bottom is covered by scattered patches of algae Ruppia.Originally, Bardawil was connected to the sea via one small natural inlet at its eastern extremity (Bughaz Zaranik), usually becoming inundated with seawater only during winter when storms often breached the unstable sandbar. During summer, most of the lake was isolated from the sea and water evaporated, leaving behind large areas of sabkha. Several man-made inlets have been dredged along the sandbar since 1905 in an effort to allow the permanent inundation of the lagoon and maintenance of salinity levels suitable for the development of fisheries. Today, there are two man-made inlets (Bughaz I, II), which are continually being blocked through sedimentation. Bardawil is the source of an important local fishery, producing over 2,500 tonnes annually (1987 figure), mostly of the high-value saltwater fish Sparus auratus and Mugil sp., and employing some 3,000 fishermen. Fishing is suspended between January and May, in order to allow fish stocks to recuperate.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus||winter||-||13,000 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo||winter||-||5,000-30,000 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus||passage||-||present [units unknown]||-||A1||Near Threatened|
|Corncrake Crex crex||passage||-||present [units unknown]||-||A1||Least Concern|
|Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus||breeding||-||1,900 breeding pairs||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Little Tern Sterna albifrons||breeding||-||1,200 breeding pairs||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|A4iii Species group - waterbirds||winter||-||20,000 individuals||unknown||A4iii|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Bardawil Lake||Natural Area||60,000||protected area contains site||59,500|
|Lake Bardawil||Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar)||59,500||is identical to site||59,500|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||-|
Other biodiversity Reptiles: The Mediterranean shore of the lake is of potential importance for the nesting of two sea-turtles, Caretta caretta (EN) and Chelonia mydas (EN). Islets and dunes adjacent to the lake represent some of the last remaining habitats where extremely small populations of the tortoise Testudo kleinmanni (EN) might still exist. Mammals: Vulpes zerda (DD) still inhabits adjacent dunes in low density.
Management considerations Bardawil is a Ramsar Site, although no protection has been granted at the national or local level. However, the eastern extremity of the site lies within the Zaranik Protected Area.Phalacrocorax carbo causes substantial damage to fisheries in Bardawil—one estimate suggested that 6% of Bardawil’s fish production was lost to the species in the winter of 1989/90. It appears that the numbers of this bird wintering at Lake Bardawil, as well as at other Egyptian wetlands in the northern delta, are growing.In an attempt to reduce the damage, the fisheries authority has arranged shooting parties over the past few years to try to control Phalacrocorax carbo populations on a regular basis and attempted to allow fishing throughout the winter, in order to increase disturbance to the birds. These measures apparently did not prove effective in resolving the problem, meanwhile causing increased disturbance and many casualties amongst non-target species, as well as a severe decline in the fish productivity of the lake.Bird-catching is widespread during the autumn, when tens of kilometres of trammel nets are set up along the Mediterranean coast of North Sinai, including much of Bardawil’s sandbar. The main target species is Coturnix coturnix, although large numbers of many other non-target species are also caught, including Crex crex, a species of global conservation concern. It was estimated that 205,000 Coturnix coturnix and 30,000 non-target species (including 1,100 Crex crex) were caught in North Sinai during the autumn of 1990. Shooting of migrating waterbirds takes place on a small scale along the Mediterranean, as well as on the shores of Lake Bardawil. Falcon catching is also widespread. In autumn 1990 over 1,000 birds of prey were caught in North Sinai. Disturbance by fishermen and coastguard personnel reduces the breeding success of waterbirds.The North Sinai Agriculture Development Project (NSADP) is a large-scale development scheme aiming, ultimately, at claiming for irrigation 400,000 acres in North Sinai, using water from the Nile river. The NSADP, which has already entered its initial phases, will completely change the landscape of Bardawil. The lake will potentially become increasingly brackish as agricultural drainage water reaches it, either through direct discharge or through seepage. Although this, in itself, may not have a negative impact for most birds, it is expected that a drastic growth in human population will occur, increasing urban encroachment pressures and introducing pollution problems hitherto unknown in the area. In addition to land claim, land is being sold along the lake shore for tourism development, particularly at the western end of the lake.
References Baha el Din (1994), Baha el Din and Salama (1991), Dunnet et al. (1986), Meininger and Atta (1994), Varty et al. (1990).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lake Bardawil. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/05/2013
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