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Location Morocco, Nador,Oujda
Central coordinates 2o 22.00' West  35o 6.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i
Area 2,700 ha
Altitude 0 - 60m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Groupe de Recherche pour la Protection des Oiseaux au Maroc (Affiliate)

Site description The Oued Moulouya is the largest river to the east of the Middle Atlas and flows 600 km north from Midelt to the Mediterranean. The estuary lies 20 km north of the town of Berkane, only 12 km west of the Algerian border. The site has three components, together comprising 2,700 ha: the Chararba marsh, a freshwater wetland ringed by almost impenetrable dense vegetation; a sandy beach backed by dunes and, in places, a 20-m-high cliff; and the lower 25 km of the course of the Oued Moulouya itself. The luxuriant riparian vegetation consists of Tamarix sp. on the banks and Phragmites communis, Scirpus maritimus, Juncus sp. and Salicornia sp. There are also small plantations of Acacia and Eucalyptus spp. Annual rainfall is 340 mm.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. An important breeding colony of Larus audouinii, numbering 2,700 breeding pairs in 1997, lies just 5 km offshore from the mouth of the estuary on the Islas Chafarinas (IBA ES220), which belong to Spain. The estuary of the Oued Moulouya is thus an important roosting and resting site for this species. Marmaronetta angustirostris breeds in small numbers, but is declining in importance as a winter visitor—250 individuals seen in September 1979 and only 38 in April 1996 are indicative. Numenius tenuirostris was last recorded in 1958. Around 180 species have been recorded from the site, including five species of the Mediterranean North Africa biome (see Table 2).

Non-bird biodiversity: Two restricted-range lizards, Chalcides mauritanicus and C. parallelus, have been recorded.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris winter  38 individuals  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Audouin's Gull Larus audouinii winter  1,200 individuals  A1, A4i  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2014 very high not assessed negligible
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Climate change and severe weather habitat shifting and alteration likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration medium
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - abstraction of surface water (agricultural use) happening now some of area/population (10-49%) very rapid to severe deterioration high
Pollution garbage & solid waste happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high

Little/none of site covered (<10%)  No management planning has taken place  Very little or no conservation action taking place  negligible 

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
fisheries/aquaculture -
hunting -
tourism/recreation -
other -
Notes: Reed-cutting.

Related state of the world's birds case studies

References BCEOM-SECA (1995c), Brosset (1959).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Embouchure Oued Moulouya. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016

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