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Location Chad, Lac
Central coordinates 14o 17.00' East  13o 31.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A3, A4i, A4iii
Area 2,600,000 ha
Altitude 275 - 295m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Site description During the twentieth century the extent of Lake Chad has fluctuated considerably as a result of cyclical drought and flooding. It has ranged from a surface area of almost 26,000 km² in June 1962 (Kindler et al. 1989) to 1,653 km² in April 1985 (Kusnir 1993). At its lowest level, the two basins have been physically separated by a dry ridge. The present lake is only a tiny remnant of the Paleo-Lake Chad, which first came into existence by tectonic subsidence 35 million years ago. There are three main types of habitat within the lake: islands of floating and rooted papyrus Cyperus papyrus and reeds Phragmites sp. and islands which are the tops of submerged dunes; extensive beds of reedmace Typha australis, papyrus and other sedges around the shore; and areas of open water. The vast populations of migrant birds at Lake Chad are sustained in part by midges, the aquatic larval stage of which (together with other zooplankton and phytoplankton) are at the base of the food chain of the abundant fish population. Some 46% of the lake and its peripheral marshes are situated within Chad.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 2 for key species. Waterbird counts include 61,900 wildfowl (Anatidae) in 1984. In addition, three species of the Sudan–Guinea Savanna biome occur (see Table 2).

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals of global conservation concern that occur, or used to do so, include Loxodonta africana (EN), Tragelaphus spekei (LR/nt) and Lutra maculicollis (VU).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Northern Pintail Anas acuta winter  1986  58,500 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Fulvous Whistling-duck Dendrocygna bicolor winter  1999  61,029 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Garganey Spatula querquedula winter  1986  45,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus winter  1999  1,375 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides winter  1986  1,335 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Arabian Bustard Ardeotis arabs resident  1997  present  A3  Near Threatened 
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa winter  1986  7,000 individuals  A4i  Near Threatened 
Ruff Calidris pugnax winter  1986  20,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Grey-headed Gull Larus cirrocephalus winter  1986  1,400 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
African Collared-dove Streptopelia roseogrisea resident  1997  present  A3  Least Concern 
Sahelian Woodpecker Dendropicos elachus resident  1997  present  A3  Least Concern 
River Prinia Prinia fluviatilis resident  1997  present  A1, A3  Least Concern 
Cricket Longtail Spiloptila clamans resident  1997  present  A3  Least Concern 
Chestnut-bellied Starling Lamprotornis pulcher resident  1997  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black Scrub-robin Cercotrichas podobe resident  1997  present  A3  Least Concern 
Sudan Golden Sparrow Passer luteus resident  1997  present  A3  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  1986-1999  100,000-499,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   
Yellow-breasted Barbet Trachyphonus margaritatus resident  1997  present  A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2001 very high not assessed not assessed
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Biological resource use fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - unintentional effects: large scale happening now whole area/population (>90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Human intrusions and disturbance work and other activities happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Partie tchadienne du lac Tchad Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 1,648,168 protected area contained by site 1,648,168  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   26%
Wetlands (inland)   10%
Shrubland   18%
Rocky areas   2%
Grassland   38%
Forest   1%
Desert   1%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
fisheries/aquaculture -

References Ash et al. (1967), Carmouze et al. (1983), CIRAD/EMVT (1996), Keith and Plowes (1993), Kindler et al. (1989), Kusnir (1993), Lévèque (1969), Roux and Jarry (1984a, b, 1986, 1987), Trolliet and Thal (1999–2000).

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

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