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Location Eritrea, Southern Red Sea Zone
Central coordinates 42o 23.00' East  13o 10.00' North
IBA criteria A3
Area 69,000 ha
Altitude 0 - 150m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Site description The site lies on the southern coastal plain in the Danakil region between Asseb and Gehare. Bird records from the Asseb–Gehare area on the coast of the Danakil lowlands indicate that a site within this general area will merit IBA status. Further survey work will be required to define the exact location and boundaries of a site. The area is defined as arid to semi-arid; rainfall declines progressively southwards throughout the Danakil region, to less than 40 mm annually at Asseb, and vegetation is largely confined to wadis. Temperatures in the southern Danakil can exceed 50°C during June to September and diurnal averages are exceptionally high due to high night-time temperatures. The area is characterized by black basalt lava-fields and sandy, stony or shell plains. Dominant vegetation is Acacia mellifera on the lava and scattered A. tortilis, A. nubica and Balanites aegyptiaca on the plains. The coastline is as described for the Gulf of Zula (ER009), with offshore islands and reefs, sandy dunes, mud-, sand- and saltflats and mangroves (principally Avicennia sp.) in the bays and inlets.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 2 for key species. Phoenicopterus minor was reported as a rare visitor to the coastal flats, saltpans and tidal inlets including single birds at Asseb, usually with P. ruber, in the 1950s. The site is the only IBA in Eritrea from which the Sahara–Sindian biome species Oenanthe leucopyga is recorded (by Smith, in the lava-fields near Asseb) and one of only two sites for the Somali–Masai biome species, Francolinus leucoscepus. There are records of two Sahel biome species; see Table 2. Two Afrotropical Highlands biome species, Columba albitorques and Corvus crassirostris are recorded from Mount Ramlu (2,100 m), within the Danakil region, but not within the proposed IBA area (Mount Ramlu lies c.75 km to the north-west). These are old records and Mount Ramlu is not considered to merit the status of a separate IBA without additional and more recent information on its bird populations. Struthio camelus is said to be fairly numerous in the Danakil region and Smith reported that the area just north of Asseb harboured very large numbers of Palearctic migrants, especially Sylvia spp. and Phylloscopus spp. warblers, very large numbers of Lanius spp. (especially L. collurio) and raptors, Milvus migrans and Gyps spp.

Non-bird biodiversity: Oryx beisa are known to have occurred in the Danakil region in the past, but there are no recent sightings and it is believed they may have been hunted to extinction by the occupying Ethiopian army. Equus africanus somaliensis (CR), Gazella dorcas (VU) and G. soemmeringi (VU) are all known from the area, some populations probably moving between the Buri peninsula (see Gulf of Zula, ER009) and Danakil region. The two gazelle species are also said to be numerous south of Asseb, towards the Djibouti border.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Yellow-necked Francolin Pternistis leucoscepus resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse Pterocles lichtensteinii resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Eastern Yellow-billed Hornbill Tockus flavirostris resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Rosy-patched Bush-shrike Rhodophoneus cruentus resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Greater Hoopoe-lark Alaemon alaudipes resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Desert Lark Ammomanes deserti resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-rumped Babbler Turdoides leucopygia resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Somali Starling Onychognathus blythii resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-tailed Wheatear Oenanthe leucopyga resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Blackstart Cercomela melanura resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Shining Sunbird Nectarinia habessinica resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Rocky areas   97%
Grassland   2%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
unknown -

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Danakil lowlands. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

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