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Location Egypt, North Sinai
Central coordinates 33o 0.00' East  31o 9.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 59,500 ha
Altitude 0 - 10m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Nature Conservation Eqypt (Affiliate)

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.

Key Biodiversity 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.

Non-bird 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.

Populations of IBA trigger species

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  A1  Near Threatened 
Corncrake Crex crex passage  present  A1  Least Concern 
Charadrius alexandrinus breeding  1,900 breeding pairs  A4i  Not Recognised 
Little Tern Sternula albifrons breeding  1,200 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  1989-1994  26,968-30,000 individuals  good  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

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

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - agro-industry farming likely in long term (beyond 4 years) majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration medium
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Human intrusions and disturbance work and other activities happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Pollution domestic & urban waste water - type unknown/unrecorded likely in long term (beyond 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)  
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

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
hunting -
nature conservation and research -
tourism/recreation -
urban/industrial/transport -

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 (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Lake Bardawil. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016

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