|Central coordinates||4o 0.00' West 31o 10.00' North|
|IBA criteria||A1, A3, A4i|
|Altitude||699 - 922m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Site description The site lies in the Tafilelt 30 km south-east of Erfoud. It consists of the highest sand-dune in Morocco, Erg Chebbi, and a seasonal lake variously known as Lac de Merzouga, Dayet Srij or Tamezguidat. The dune rises to 922 m, over 200 m higher than the surrounding plain and the level of the lake (699 m), creating a spectacular desert landscape that attracts thousands of tourists each year. The rain-fed lake normally contains water from November to May, but in exceptionally wet years persists until August. Average annual rainfall is 200 mm per year. The vegetation cover is therefore sparse and, except for a lawn of Cyperus spp. around the lake, consists of scattered clumps of Acacia and Tamarix spp. with some perennial and annual grasses.
Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 2 for key species. This temporary lake is the most important water-body in the Tafilelt, and attracts thousands of migrating waterbirds. Up to 3,500 Marmaronetta angustirostris have been recorded historically (1973), but more recent records are all in the range of 300–400. There is an unconfirmed report of 2,000 Tadorna ferruginea in November 1996 (600 confirmed at another date in the same year). The lake frequently harbours flamingos (e.g. 400 in 1996), which are a major tourist attraction. The avifauna is very rich and diverse, with c.130 recorded species. Of the 14 species of the Sahara–Sindian biome that have been recorded, 13 breed; of the 15 such species in Morocco, only Hirundo obsoleta has never been recorded here (Table 2). Also present are three species of the Mediterranean North Africa biome (see Table 2), of which two—Ramphocoris clotbey and Eremophila bilopha—occur at few other Moroccan IBAs. The area harbours a declining population of Chlamydotis undulata, and is probably the last Moroccan site for Ardeotis arabs (observed infrequently between 1987 and 1993).
Non-bird biodiversity: Among the c.20 mammal species identified from the site are the rare Felis margarita and Gazella dorcas (LR/nt).
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea||winter||-||600-2,000 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris||winter||-||300-400 individuals||-||A1, A4i||Vulnerable|
|Spotted Sandgrouse Pterocles senegallus||resident||1999||present||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Crowned Sandgrouse Pterocles coronatus||resident||1999||present||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse Pterocles lichtensteinii||resident||1999||present||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Pharaoh Eagle-owl Bubo ascalaphus||resident||1999||present||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius||breeding||1999||present||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Greater Hoopoe-lark Alaemon alaudipes||resident||1999||present||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Bar-tailed Lark Ammomanes cinctura||resident||1999||present||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Desert Lark Ammomanes deserti||resident||1999||present||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Streaked Scrub-warbler Scotocerca inquieta||resident||1999||present||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Fulvous Chatterer Turdoides fulva||resident||1999||present||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Mourning Wheatear Oenanthe lugens||resident||1999||present||-||A3||Least Concern|
|White-tailed Wheatear Oenanthe leucopyga||resident||1999||present||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Passer simplex||resident||1999||present||-||A3||Not Recognised|
|Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githagineus||resident||1999||present||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|Notes: Collection of eggs of waterbirds.|
References BCEOM-SECA (1995b).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Merzouga/Tamezguidat. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/11/2015
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