email a friend
printable version
Location French Southern Territories
Central coordinates 40o 22.00' East  22o 20.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4ii, A4iii
Area 3,000 ha
Altitude 0 - 12m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Site description Europa is an island in the southern Mozambique Channel, 350 km west-south-west of Morombe, Madagascar. It is one of the least modified coralline islands in the western Indian Ocean and was formed from the progressive filling of an ancient atoll which appeared 90,000 years ago. It is composed of a central lagoon largely surrounded by mangrove Rhizophora mucronata; shrubland, bushland and thicket, dominated by Psiadia altissima, Suriana maritima and/or Pemphis acidula; Euphorbia stenoclada dry forest; Sclerodactylon macrostachyum grassland; halophile vegetation (Arthrocnemum indicum) and a fringing beach- and dune-system rising to 12 m, the highest land on the island. In all, 33–46 angiosperm species occur. Eighteen people live on the island in shifts of 45 days; three occupy a meteorological station, and 15 are military servicemen.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. Europa holds a diverse and very large population of breeding seabirds, with five species occurring in globally significant numbers, and it is also the only known breeding site outside Madagascar and Aldabra for the globally near-threatened Ardeola idae (up to 15 pairs in 1996). Additional nesting waterbird and seabird species are Fregata minor (700–1,100 pairs; the second largest colony in the western Indian Ocean), Puffinus lherminieri (50–100 pairs; probably of the subspecies P. l. bailloni, previously thought to be endemic to the Mascarene Islands), Egretta dimorpha (abundant breeding resident) and Sterna caspia (10–15 pairs). The seabird community appears to be biogeographically isolated from others in the region as it shows several unique features, including the presence of an endemic subspecies, Phaethon lepturus europae. Three landbird species are present, of which one, the abundant Zosterops maderaspatanus voeltzkowi, is an endemic subspecies. A wide range of migrant and vagrant species have been recorded.

Non-bird biodiversity: The island is a nesting site for the sea-turtle Chelonia mydas (EN), and Eretmochelys imbricata (CR) and Caretta caretta (EN) are also present. There are two endemic lizard subspecies (Mabuya comorensis infralineata and Cryptoblepharus boutonii bitaeniatus). Overall, the coral island ecosystem is one of the finest in the Indian Ocean.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Madagascar Pond-heron Ardeola idae breeding  present  A1  Endangered 
Red-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon rubricauda breeding  3,000-4,000 breeding pairs  A4ii  Least Concern 
White-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon lepturus breeding  500-1,000 breeding pairs  A4ii  Least Concern 
Lesser Frigatebird Fregata ariel breeding  1,000-1,200 breeding pairs  A4ii  Least Concern 
Red-footed Booby Sula sula breeding  2,800-3,800 breeding pairs  A4ii  Least Concern 
Sooty Tern Onychoprion fuscatus breeding  500,000-1,000,000 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Europa Nature Reserve National Park 3,000 is identical to site 3,000  

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
military -
nature conservation and research -

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: Europa. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016

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