Sites - Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs)
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17o 30.00' East 12o 50.00' North
A1, A4i, A4iii
Year of IBA assessment
Site description Lake Fitri is located in the centre of the country, about 300 km east of N’Djamena. The normal maximum extent of the lake is about 50,000 ha, although it can double or triple in size in wet years; the area of the designated Ramsar Site is 195,000 ha. In addition, there are a number of permanent swamps around its normal margin of 150 km. The freshwater lake is normally shallow (several metres) and is fed by seasonal rainfall and run-off from a catchment area estimated at 70,000 km². The principal affluent is the seasonal Batha river which carries water from the Ouaddai massif to the east. The normally permanent lake may dry out during severe drought periods, such as occurred at the beginning of the twentieth century and again in 1984–1985 and (almost) in 1991. The lake supports vegetation characteristic of Sahelian wetlands which includes Echinochloa stagnina, Vossia cuspidata and Nymphaea aquatica, while seasonally flooded areas support woodland consisting of Acacia nilotica and Mitragyna inermis with a ground-cover of annual grasses and sedges.
Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. Waterbird counts have been made at Lake Fitri annually since 1984 and irregularly before that. As well as being important for Palearctic migrants, the lake also provides a drought refuge for Afrotropical species. A total of 3,800 Aythya nyroca were counted in 1999. It is thought that the population of Balearica pavonina may exceed 2,500.
Non-bird biodiversity: Among mammals, the site is important for Loxodonta africana (EN) in the dry season, and Gazella rufifrons (VU) occurs, especially west of the lake.