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Location Eritrea, Southern
Central coordinates 39o 5.88' East  14o 52.14' North
IBA criteria A3
Area 5,500 ha
Altitude 1,500 - 1,800m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Site description This site lies at the southern end of the Central Plateau on the edge of the escarpment, where it falls down steeply to the valley of the Mareb river. In places there are sheer cliffs, dropping as much as 600 m to the river. The site is about 40 km north-west of Senafe (ER013). Bird records from the general area of ‘Mareb escarpment’ and Mai Aini, show that the area merits definition as an IBA. Further survey work will be needed to define the boundaries of a site in this general area. The cliffs and hills are covered in dry upland scrub and grassland (Olea, Euphorbia, Dodonaea, Opuntia, Barleria and sparse Acacia spp., together with Rumex nervosus, Rosa abyssinica, Ocimum menthaefolium and Aloe abyssinica). On flatter ground adjoining the Mareb, at c.1,500 m and above, are doum palm, Hyphaene thebaica, other trees, rank undergrowth and some areas of cultivation and grassland.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 2 for key species. There are old records (from the 1950s) of Emberiza cineracea occurring ‘on the Mareb’, but no information is given about altitude or location. This is one of only two IBAs in which the Sudan–Guinea Savanna biome species Myrmecocichla albifrons occurs. It is the only IBA in Eritrea within which the Somali–Masai biome species Cercomela scotocerca is recorded and the area was said to be the ‘main haunt, with flocks of 20 and more’ for another Somali–Masai species, Tockus hemprichii, in the 1950s. In addition, there are records for three Sahel biome species and four Afrotropical Highlands biome species; see Table 2.

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

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 
Black-billed Woodhoopoe Phoeniculus somaliensis resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Hemprich's Hornbill Lophoceros hemprichii resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Senegal Eremomela Eremomela pusilla resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Somali Starling Onychognathus blythii resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Brown-tailed Chat Cercomela scotocerca resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-fronted Black-chat Myrmecocichla albifrons 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 
Black-rumped Waxbill Estrilda troglodytes resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   83%
Grassland   16%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -

References Smith (1960), Zinner (in press).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Mareb escarpment. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016

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