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Location Egypt, Kafr El Sheikh
Central coordinates 30o 50.00' East  31o 29.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 46,200 ha
Altitude 0 - 10m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Nature Conservation Eqypt (Affiliate)

Site description The Protected Area is composed primarily of Lake Burullus, a large, shallow, fresh-to-brackish coastal lagoon located between the two Nile branches forming the delta. It is elongate in shape extending for c.54 km from east to west with a width of 6–21 km and an estimated average depth of 75–100 cm. The lake is separated from the sea by a broad, dune-covered sandbar, which varies in width from a few hundred meters in the east to 5 km in the west. There are some 50 islands scattered throughout the lake with a total area of 0.7 km². On average, 50–70 million m³ of slightly saline, nutrient-rich water enters the lake annually from the south via six drains. Bughaz El Burullus, located in the north-east corner of the lake, is the only direct connection between Burullus and the Mediterranean. Salinity in the lake decreases towards the south and west as the distance from the Bughaz increases, becoming fresh near the outflows of drains and canals that flow into the lake from the south. Consequently, the north shores of the lake are dominated by saltmarshes and mudflats, while the southern shore is bordered by an extensive fringe of reed-swamps (mainly Phragmites and Typha), which currently covers more than 25% of the lake area. Lake Burullus has abundant submerged vegetation, dominated by Potamogeton, which is densest in the southern portion of the lake. Burullus is by far the least disturbed and damaged of the delta wetlands and its environs still retain some aspects of wilderness, which have been lost throughout most of the delta.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. Burullus is one of Egypt’s most important wetland for wintering waterfowl, holding a total of 98,887 in winter 1989/90, the second-largest concentration recorded in Egypt that winter. The lake supports the largest numbers of some wintering waterfowl in the country, including Anas penelope, Anas clypeata, Aythya nyroca, Aythya ferina, Fulica atra and Tringa totanus. Burullus is one of the most important wintering grounds for Aythya nyroca in the eastern Mediterranean. Because of its relative isolation, Burullus is also an important breeding site for several waterbirds and wetland species. About 35 species of birds are known to breed, of which the most prominent are Tachybaptus ruficollis, Ixobrychus minutus, Porphyrio porphyrio, Sterna albifrons, Charadrius alexandrinus, Vanellus spinosus, Glareola pratincola, Caprimulgus aegyptius, Ceryle rudis, Centropus senegalensis and Acrocephalus stentoreus. The endemic delta subspecies of Calandrella rufescens (Calandrella rufescens nicolli) probably has its largest population in the vicinity of Burullus.

Non-bird biodiversity: Reptiles: the Mediterranean shore of the lake is a potential breeding site for endangered marine turtles—Caretta caretta (EN) is known to breed locally. Mammals: Felis chaus is known to occur in numbers.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Eurasian Wigeon Mareca penelope winter  24,997 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Northern Shoveler Spatula clypeata winter  15,427 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca winter  common  A1  Near Threatened 
Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio breeding  500 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta winter  2,949 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Common Redshank Tringa totanus winter  3,378 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola breeding  2,000 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus winter  3,906 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Little Tern Sternula albifrons breeding  600-800 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida winter  3,530 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  50,000-99,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

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

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 agricultural & forestry effluents - herbicides and pesticides happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Pollution agricultural & forestry effluents - nutrient loads happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Transportation and service corridors roads and railroads happening now 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)  
Lake Burullus Protected Area 46,000 protected area contained by site 46,000  
Lake Burullus Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 46,200 is identical to site 46,200  

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
fisheries/aquaculture -
hunting -
nature conservation and research -
urban/industrial/transport -
water management -

References Baha el Din (1991), Meininger and Atta (1994), Stanley and Warne (1993), van Pelt et al. (1992).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Lake Burullus. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

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