|Central coordinates||6o 3.00' West 35o 10.00' North|
|IBA criteria||A1, A4i|
|Altitude||0 - 10m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Ornithological information See Box for key species. This wetland site is one of the 5–10 most important wintering sites for Palearctic migrants in Morocco, situated as it is on the Atlantic coastal flyway. More than 4,000 duck regularly winter, including up to 100 Marmaronetta angustirostris. Numenius tenuirostris was formerly recorded, while Larus audouinii regularly occurs in small numbers. Over 50 species breed, including Fulica cristata. The Marais Larache is the only known Moroccan breeding site for small numbers of Aythya nyroca, and the most important Moroccan site for Porphyrio porphyrio (>600 wintering); Asio capensis also breeds.
Site description Marais Larache is situated on the outskirts of the Atlantic coastal town of Larache. It extends 15 km inland, as the crow flies, from the mouth of the Oued Loukkos, including the estuary and associated saltpans and various freshwater marshes along its course. The two principal marshes are Bedaoua Sejra, on the right bank of the Oued Loukkos and Ain Chouk-Boucharène on the left bank. The whole site comprises part of the Plaine de Ksar El Kbir and is traversed by the Larache–Tanger (Tangiers) road. The marshes are one of the most important wetlands in the country, with a luxuriant and diverse assemblage of aquatic and semi-aquatic vegetation, including Typha, Juncus, Scirpus and Phragmites spp. and fringing stands of Tamarix and Salix spp.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris||winter||-||100 individuals||-||A1, A4i||Vulnerable|
|Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus||winter||-||800 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia||winter||-||160 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata||winter||-||3,000 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta||winter||-||1,000 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
Other biodiversity Six endemic lizards—Acanthodactylus lineomaculatus, Chalcides colosii, C. mionecton, C. pseudostriatus, C. polylepis and Blanus tingitanus—occur, as does the endemic Moroccan amphibian Pelobates varaldii.
Management considerations The site is mainly public land, with some private holdings. The estuary and the Roman ruins of Lixus are protected as a ‘Monument Historique’ and Hunting Reserve: the remainder is unprotected. The site was classed as a priority 1 SIBE (No. L12). Human activities include extensive and intensive agriculture (cereal and legumes, tomatoes and sugar-cane), livestock-rearing, hunting, salt production, reed-cutting and tourism.There are multiple threats, including a cannery on the right bank of the estuary, which discharges large volumes of effluent into the saltpans; overgrazing of the upper marshes; illegal hunting and collecting of birds’ eggs; pollution from agricultural pesticides and fertilizers contained in farmland run-off; a proposed new irrigation project on the lower Oued Loukkos; and a proposed drainage scheme to convert the marshland to agricultural land. The area merits gazetting, and perhaps designation as a Ramsar Site, followed by the application of an integrated management plan. Measures to protect bird nesting sites and to control hunting and water-pollution are urgently required.
References BCEOM-SECA (1995c), El Agbani (1997).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Marais Larache. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/05/2013
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