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Location Egypt, Matruh
Central coordinates 26o 35.00' East  31o 5.00' North
IBA criteria A3
Area 750,000 ha
Altitude 50 - 200m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Nature Conservation Eqypt (Affiliate)

Site description A vast, flat, sand-and-gravel plain, with scattered clay pans, which forms part of El Diffa Miocene Plateau. Several low limestone ridges run east–west across the plain and gradually raise the flat landscape to an elevation of 200 m. Fairly dense desert scrub is dominated in the northern part by Thymelaea and in the south by Anabasis and Hamada, with scattered Lycium bushes. Annual rainfall is fairly high, averaging about 140 mm near the coast. Rainfall and density of vegetation decrease steeply southwards, and severe desert conditions prevail more than 70 km from the coastline. The area represents a fairly undisturbed example of a unique and restricted habitat in Egypt: the Mediterranean coastal steppe, a habitat that is being lost and degraded very rapidly.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Thick-billed Lark Rhamphocoris clotbey resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Dupont's Lark Chersophilus duponti resident  1998  present  A3  Near Threatened 
Temminck's Lark Eremophila bilopha resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-rumped Wheatear Oenanthe moesta resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -

Other biodiversity Reptiles: small numbers of Testudo kleinmanni (EN) may still exist in the region. Mammals: Allactaga tetradactyla (EN), Jaculus orientalis (LR/nt) and Eliomys melanurus (LR/nt) are present in the more densely vegetated coastal region. Gazella dorcas (VU) used to be common in this region, but has declined sharply as a result of excessive hunting.

References Baha el Din (1996b, 1997, 1998).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: El Qasr desert. Downloaded from on 17/09/2014

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