email a friend
printable version
Location Mauritania, Hodh El Gharbi
Central coordinates 9o 17.00' West  16o 20.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 1,200 ha
Altitude 160 m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Site description Gâat Sawana (more than 800 ha) and Tâmourt Oum Lellé (more than 400 ha) are located 67 km south-east of the regional capital, Ayoûn. Gâat Sawana is a clay depression on an open plain where seasonal rains accumulate. It is an important area for traditional flood-recession agriculture. When flooded, it presents a large open expanse of water with abundant aquatic vegetation. Rainwater is fed in from two wadis and water reaches a depth of up to 1 m. Water is retained in the depression for five to eight months. The sandy zone around the depression supports grasses such as Cenchrus biflorus, Panicum and Aristida spp. and trees and bushes including Leptadenia pyrotechnica, Balanites aegyptiaca and Acacia raddiana. The vegetation of the floodable zone inlcudes Helioptropium sp.,Indigofera sp., Eragrostis tremula, Sesbania leptocarpa and Cyperus esculentus, while the aquatic zone on clay soils supports Cyperus sp., Nymphaea sp., Sporobolus helvolus, Oryza barthii and Ipomoea aquatica with Acacia nilotica and Ziziphus mauritiana.

Oum Lellé lies 11 km north of Sawana in another clay-lined depression. The tâmourt is deeper than the gâat, holds water for longer and is characterized by a woodland of Acacia nilotica in the centre of the depression and by the absence of aquatic vegetation. The surrounding area is a zone of rich pastoral land dominated by grasses such as Cenchrus biflorus, Panicum and Aristida spp. while trees and shrubs include Acacia raddiana, A. ehrenbergiana, Balanites aegyptiaca and Leptadenia pyrotechnica.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. In January 2000, 85 Aythya nyroca and 17,000 Anas querquedula were recorded at this site.

Non-bird biodiversity: The tortoise Geochelone sulcata (VU) occurs.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca winter  2000  85 individuals  A1  Near Threatened 
Gallinula chloropus winter  1999  1,000 individuals  A4i  Not Recognised 
Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio winter  2000  200 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Himantopus himantopus winter  2000  2,135 individuals  A4i  Not Recognised 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   7%
Grassland   92%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
water management -

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Sawana - Oum Lellé. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife