email a friend
printable version
Location Eritrea, Anseba,Gash Barka
Central coordinates 37o 27.00' East  15o 45.00' North
IBA criteria A3
Area 490,000 ha
Altitude 300 - 600m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Site description The site lies some 20 km north-east of Keru, in the valley of the Barka river which flows west and north out of the Central Plateau. It is not possible using existing information to locate an exact site, but the combination of records from ‘North-east of Keru’ and the ‘Barka river valley’, at the correct altitude and in the kinds of habitats described for this region by Smith, indicate that a site within this area will qualify as an IBA. The whole river valley area, especially north towards the Sudan border, is drier than more southerly parts of the Western Plain, with stony steppes and Acacia sp. thorn-bush. The Barka river flows north and is joined just before the border with Sudan by the Anseba. The sandy valley of the Barka drops to less than 300 m, forming the lowest part of the Western Plain. The area is semi-desert apart from the riparian woodland along the rivers which can be several hundred metres wide and includes taxa such as Hyphaene, Tamarindus, Tamarix, Adansonia, Ficus, Acacia>, Zizyphus,Salvadora, Leptadenia, Calotropis and occasionally, Kigelia spp. During the summer rains there are also belts of cultivation along the rivers and extensive rank grass and scrub.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 2 for key species. For both this site and the other ‘Western Plain’ site (Gash–Setit, ER010), many of the records are inferred (i.e. the species are reported generally from ‘the Western Plain’ or ‘the Barka river valley’ in habitats and at altitudes known to occur within the site) rather than any more specific mention of a particular location. This site, together with Western Plain: Gash–Setit (ER010) are the only two known sites in the country for the Sahel biome species Anthoscopus punctifrons and the Sudan–Guinea Savanna biome species Turdoides leucocephalus. There are also records of a single Sahara–Sindian (A02) species and seven Somali–Masai (A08) species, including Rhodophoneus cruentus recorded specifically from the Barka river valley (although at Karkabat, to the north of the area of the proposed IBA); see Table 2.

Non-bird biodiversity: The mammal Gazella dorcas (VU) were observed (10–60 km east of Keru) and ‘hartebeest’ reported (c.15 km north of Keru) during a brief visit by Butynski in 1995, between Halcota, Keru and Agordat.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Fox Kestrel Falco alopex resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Arabian Bustard Ardeotis arabs resident  2000  present  A3  Near Threatened 
Sennar Penduline-tit Anthoscopus punctifrons resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-pate Cisticola Cisticola ruficeps resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Cricket Longtail Spiloptila clamans resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Senegal Eremomela Eremomela pusilla resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Cretschmar's Babbler Turdoides leucocephala resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Chestnut-bellied Starling Lamprotornis pulcher resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black Scrub-robin Cercotrichas podobe resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaver Plocepasser superciliosus resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Bush Petronia Petronia dentata resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-breasted Barbet Trachyphonus margaritatus resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Rocky areas   86%
Grassland   11%
Desert   2%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -

References Butynski (1995), Smith (1951b, 1957).

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Western Plain: Barka river. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife