|Location||Egypt, South Sinai|
|Central coordinates||34o 15.00' East 27o 44.00' North|
|IBA criteria||A1, A4iv|
|Altitude||0 - 73m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Ornithological information See Box for key species. Ras Mohammed’s primary importance is as a bottleneck for migratory soaring birds, which concentrate in the area in large numbers and regularly stop to rest. Ciconia ciconia is the most numerous and prominent soaring bird occurring at Ras Mohammed. In autumn, birds of this species tend to concentrate in southern Sinai, where huge flocks build up at Ras Mohammed. A total of 275,743 individuals was counted over 27 days in August and September 1998, but the actual number of birds passing through was estimated to be 390,000–470,000. Many of the birds congregating in the area descend to rest on the sandy beaches, particularly on the western side of the peninsula, overlooking the Gulf of Suez. Smaller numbers also rest on higher ground in the surrounding desert. An estimated daily average of 12,000 birds rests at Ras Mohammed during peak autumn migration. After resting for some hours, the birds attempt to make the crossing to the western side of the Gulf of Suez. However, it appears that most of the birds seen at Ras Mohammed cross the Gulf further north near El Tor. Other prominent migrants concentrating at Ras Mohammed regularly include Pelecanus onocrotalus, Ciconia nigra, Milvus migrans, Buteo buteo and Accipiter brevipes. Spring migration is much less pronounced and no significant concentrations have been noted. Notable breeding species include Egretta gularis, Falco concolor, Pandion haliaetus and Charadrius alexandrinus.
Site description Ras Mohammed is a headland at the southernmost tip of the Sinai Peninsula, overlooking the juncture of the Gulfs of Suez and Aqaba. It is composed of uplifted coral reefs, which in places rise steeply from the sea forming high cliffs. These are interspersed with sandy bays and some intertidal flats. A stand of mangrove Avicennia is found at the southern end of Ras Mohammed. Coral reefs fringe the headland in almost all directions. Although Ras Mohammed is primarily a marine park, its boundaries encompass a considerable diversity of desert habitats, including sandstone mountains, gravel-plains, wadis, and sand-dunes.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni||passage||-||present [units unknown]||-||A1||Least Concern|
|Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus||passage||-||present [units unknown]||-||A1||Near Threatened|
|Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca||passage||-||present [units unknown]||-||A1||Vulnerable|
|White-eyed Gull Larus leucophthalmus||winter||-||present [units unknown]||-||A1||Near Threatened|
|A4iv Species group - soaring birds/cranes||passage||1998||390,000-470,000 individuals||good||A4iv|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Ras Mohammed||National Park||78,550||protected area contains site||48,000|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||-|
Other biodiversity Marine life: Ras Mohammed is primarily important for its marine life and unique coral reefs that are considered to be some of the most spectacular in the world. Reptiles: both Chelonia mydas (EN) and Eretmochelys imbricata (CR) occur off Ras Mohammed regularly, and the latter breeds locally.
Management considerations Ras Mohammed was declared a National Park by Prime Ministerial Decree 1068/1983, adjusted by Prime Ministerial Decree 2035/1996. This is Egypt’s oldest protected area. Since 1989, the EEAA, with support from the EU, has been developing the park management and infrastructure, making it the country’s most famous and best-managed protectorate. Storks have been colliding with the wires of the communication tower in the park. The main threat to migrating birds is to the east, at Sharm El Sheikh, a rapidly expanding tourism resort along the southern Sinai coast. Garbage, waste-water and green areas are attracting birds from the main migration route to land at Sharm El Sheikh, where they are subject to a variety of man-made threats. Thousands of storks die at Sharm and others may die while migrating further south, from injuries or illness sustained while in the vicinity of this site.
References Celmins (1998), Celmins and Baha el Din (in prep.).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Ras Mohammed National Park. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 21/05/2013
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