|Location||Eritrea, Anseba,Gash Barka|
|Central coordinates||37o 27.00' East 15o 45.00' North|
|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.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Yellow-breasted Barbet Trachyphonus margaritatus||resident||2000||present||-||A3||Least Concern|
|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|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
References Butynski (1995), Smith (1951b, 1957).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Western Plain: Barka river. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 18/12/2014
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