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Location Mauritania, Brakna
Central coordinates 13o 22.00' West  16o 57.00' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii
Area 5,250 ha
Altitude 30 m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Site description Lac de Mâl is located in a depression in Oued Guéllouâr, 65 km east-south-east of the town of Aleg and south-east of Magta’ Lahjar. The lake is permanent and is fed by the seasonal rains from many ephemeral watercourses, primarily Oued Leye which drains a catchment of 700 km². The size of the lake varies from a maximum of about 5,250 ha at the end of the rains to some 870 ha by late in the dry season. A dam has been built across the middle of the lake and is used to control an artificial flooding regime. Water depth varies from 1 m to 4 m with an average of 2 m. Upstream of the dam is the deepest part of the lake which is almost unvegetated. Downstream, the water is shallower and aquatic vegetation is abundant. Concentric rings of vegetation cover almost the entire surface of this part of the lake in a carpet of vegetation. This vegetation is exploited by herders as fodder for their mobile animal herds. The lake is bordered to the north and the south by mobile dunes of red sand, often stabilized by Prosopis juliflora, Leptadenia pyrotechnica and Parkinsonia aculeata. To the east the lake extends into Oued Leye and can extend up to 35 km in length after the rains. Annual rainfall in the area varies from 100 mm to 200 mm.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. In 1987 four Geronticus eremita were seen, presumably wanderers from Morocco. In October 1987, 33,690 waterbirds of 40 species were recorded. Nettapus auritus breeds. Merops bulocki, a species of the Sudan–Guinea Savanna biome (A04), has been recorded at this site.

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
Northern Pintail Anas acuta winter  1984  16,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Garganey Spatula querquedula winter  1998  20,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio winter  2000  1,060 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  20,000-49,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland)   9%
Grassland   90%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
water management -
other -
Notes: Cutting of vegetation for animal fodder.

References Eleyou (1990), Jaouen and Lamarche (1983), van Wetten et al. (1990).

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

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