|Location||Egypt, North Sinai|
|Central coordinates||33o 33.00' East 30o 45.00' North|
|IBA criteria||A1, A3|
|Altitude||75 - 735m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Ornithological information See Box and Table 2 for key species. Because of its great diversity of land forms and desert habitats, the Gebel Maghara area holds a unique combination of avian species, including a large proportion of Egypt’s Sahara–Sindian biome-restricted species. This IBA also has the greatest diversity of breeding larks in the country, seven species in all: Ammomanes cincturus, Ammomanes deserti, Alaemon alaudipes, Eremalauda dunni, Eremophila bilopha, Calandrella brachydactyla and Galerida cristata. The declining Chlamydotis undulata winters in the region in small numbers and might still breed when conditions permit.
Site description This site includes much of Gebel Maghara and the adjoining plains east to Risan Aneiza. Gebel Maghara itself is one of several domes which characterize north-central Sinai. It is the largest Jurassic exposure in Egypt, being dissected by several wadis, the largest of which flows eastwards into a large sand and gravel-plain. The North Sinai dune-fields, composed of large dunes of aeolian sand, encroach upon the northern part of Maghara and the adjoining plains. The area receives between 50 and 100 mm of rain annually, allowing fairly good vegetation cover of considerable diversity to grow on open plains, as well as in wadis. Dwarf shrubs (Fagonia, Anabasis) and grasses (Stipagrostis, Panicum) dominate the vegetation on the gravel-plain. Artemisia is common and widespread on fine sandy substrates. Substantial stands of Acacia trees are found in the larger wadis. The vegetation on the hills of Maghara includes many Mediterranean relicts, such as Juniperus phoenicea, which grows on the north-facing slopes and is found nowhere in Egypt outside the hills of north-central Sinai.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Sand Partridge Ammoperdix heyi||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Sooty Falcon Falco concolor||breeding||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Near Threatened|
|Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus||passage||-||present [units unknown]||-||A1||Near Threatened|
|Spotted Sandgrouse Pterocles senegallus||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Crowned Sandgrouse Pterocles coronatus||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Pharaoh Eagle-owl Bubo ascalaphus||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Hume's Owl Strix butleri||resident||1998||unknown [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Pale Crag-martin Hirundo obsoleta||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Greater Hoopoe-lark Alaemon alaudipes||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Bar-tailed Lark Ammomanes cinctura||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Desert Lark Ammomanes deserti||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Temminck's Lark Eremophila bilopha||resident||1998||-||-||Least Concern|
|Streaked Scrub-warbler Scotocerca inquieta||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|White-tailed Wheatear Oenanthe leucopyga||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Hooded Wheatear Oenanthe monacha||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Mourning Wheatear Oenanthe lugens||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Blackstart Cercomela melanura||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githagineus||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
Other biodiversity Flora: The area holds many endangered, rare and endemic plants. Reptiles: Good populations of the endemic Trapelus savignii and the declining Uromastyx aegyptia are still found in the sand and gravel habitats of this region. Testudo kleinmanni (EN) might still exist in the northern parts of the area. Mammals: small populations of Capra nubiana (EN) still remain on Gebel Maghara, while Gazella dorcas (VU) has most probably been locally extirpated. Gerbillus floweri (CR) is probably found in the area.
Management considerations The site has been proposed for protection as a Protected Area. The North Sinai Agriculture Development Project, in its third stage, aims at cultivating large areas of the open flat desert of the region south and east of Gebel Maghara, including a large part of the IBA identified herein. Overgrazing and ploughing both have extensive, negative impact on the vegetation of the area. Extensive quarrying for gravel takes place in a haphazard manner, completely altering the landscape and destroying habitats in very large areas of the open plain. Disturbance and uncontrolled use of vehicles are contributing to further a deterioration in the natural conditions and habitat quality in the area. Hunting by Gulf Arabs in the area during winter is unregulated. Chlamydotis undulata is the main quarry.
References Ayyad et al. (1993), Baha el Din (1990), Hadidi et al. (1992).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Gebel Maghara. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/05/2013
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