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Location Tunisia, Bizerte
Central coordinates 9o 40.00' East  37o 10.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A3, A4i, A4iii
Area 12,600 ha
Altitude 2 - 511m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Association "Les Amis des Oiseaux"

Site description Ichkeul National Park, situated 25 km south-west of the town of Bizerte on the Mateur plain in north-eastern Tunisia is (with Doñana in Spain, the Camargue in France and the El Kala wetlands in Algeria) one of the four major wetlands of the Western Mediterranean. It provides habitat for passage and wintering waterbirds from the northern Palearctic and breeding habitat for many southern Palearctic species, some of them globally threatened or biome-restricted. The park consists of an isolated wooded massif (Djebel Ichkeul), a permanent fresh/brackish lake, Lake Ichkeul (8,500 ha) and areas of freshwater marshland (Garaet Ichkeul). The lake is fed by a number of rivers from the west and south, and is indirectly connected to the sea, via the marine lagoon of the Lac de Bizerte, by the Oued Tindja. The massif supports a mixed woodland of Olea europaea, Pistacia lentiscus and Euphorbia dendroides while the marshes are dominated by Phragmites communis, Tamarix africana, Typha angustifolia and Juncus species. Within the lake the waterplant Potamogeton pectinatus is of particular importance as a food-source for wintering waterfowl. During the last 10 years the ecological character has changed dramatically, with the building of dams on inflow rivers, the consequent decrease of river water and increased evaporation.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 2 for key species. Before the construction of the upstream dams, 200,000 or more waterbirds were regularly recorded in winter at Ichkeul—these included, as well as those listed in the Box, the species of global conservation concern Aythya nyroca (20–90 birds), as well as up to 5,000 Anas crecca and smaller numbers of A. acuta and other ducks. Ichkeul was the major wintering ground for the population of Anser anser (up to 25,000 birds) that breeds in Central Europe. It also supported major congregations on passage of trans-Saharan migrant waterbirds such as Anas querquedula, Limosa limosa, Philomachus pugnax and Tringa stagnatilis, and post-breeding (probably moulting) concentrations of Anas crecca and Limosa limosa. Breeding birds of the marshes included Ardea cinerea, A. purpurea, Egretta garzetta, Marmaronetta angustirostris (probably also Oxyura leucocephala), Porphyrio porphyrio, Rallus aquaticus, Himantopus himantopus and Glareola pratincola, together with many passerines such as Acrocephalus arundinaceus and A. scirpaceus. On passage, there are good numbers of raptors including Circus macrourus, and especially in summer and early autumn, Falco eleonorae and Circus pygargus. Thick cover along the banks of the inflow rivers provides habitat for a number of passerines including Tchagra senegalus. The massif still provides breeding sites for a number of raptors such as Neophron percnopterus, Hieraaetus fasciatus, Buteo rufinus, Falco peregrinus and F. tinnunculus, as well as a number of rock-loving passerines such as Phoenicurus moussieri, Oenanthe leucura, O. hispanica and Monticola solitarius.

Non-bird biodiversity: There used to be a population of the otter Lutra lutra (VU), but it is unlikely to have survived the construction of the dams. The plant Teucrium schoenenbergeri is only known from Ichkeul.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Barbary Partridge Alectoris barbara resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Greylag Goose Anser anser winter  300-25,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Eurasian Wigeon Mareca penelope winter  10,000-50,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Northern Shoveler Spatula clypeata winter  5,000-10,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris breeding  50-200 breeding pairs  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Common Pochard Aythya ferina winter  10,000-90,000 individuals  A4i  Vulnerable 
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca winter  1991  20-90 individuals  A1  Near Threatened 
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala winter  12-600 individuals  A1, A4i  Endangered 
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus winter  500-4,500 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Eleonora's Falcon Falco eleonorae breeding  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Common Coot Fulica atra winter  2,000-45,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa passage  3,000-6,000 individuals  A4i  Near Threatened 
Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola breeding  200-600 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Spotless Starling Sturnus unicolor resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Moussier's Redstart Phoenicurus moussieri resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucura resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica breeding  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  100,000-499,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2009 medium very unfavourable high
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Climate change and severe weather drought likely in long term (beyond 4 years) majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - large dams happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low

Anser anser Greylag Goose 250 1526 individuals 100 favourable
Mareca penelope Eurasian Wigeon 3000 21223 individuals 100 favourable
Spatula clypeata Northern Shoveler 4500 10944 individuals 100 favourable
Aythya ferina Common Pochard 10000 12875 individuals 100 favourable
Phoenicopterus roseus Greater Flamingo 1325 3584 individuals 100 favourable
Fulica atra Common Coot 20000 64311 individuals 100 favourable
Limosa limosa Black-tailed Godwit 1300 13 individuals 1 very unfavourable
Glareola pratincola Collared Pratincole 190 60 breeding pairs 32 very unfavourable
Species group - waterbirds A4iii 20000 125044 individuals 100 favourable

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  A comprehensive and appropriate management plan exists that aims to maintain or improve the populations of qualifying bird species  Substantive conservation measures are being implemented but these are not comprehensive and are limited by resources and capacity  high 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Ichkeul National Park 12,600 is identical to site 12,600  
Ichkeul Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 12,600 is identical to site 12,600  
Ichkeul National Park World Heritage Site 12,600 is identical to site 12,600  
Parc national de l'Ichkeul UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve 14,100 protected area overlaps with site 10,770  

Local conservation groups The local conservation group below is working to support conservation at this IBA.

Name Year formed
AAO/ Tunisian Ornithology Group (GTO) 2000


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland) Freshwater lakes and pools; Saline lakes  major
Rocky areas   major

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research -
tourism/recreation -
water management -

References Direction Générale des Forêts et al. (1997), Gaultier (1986, 1987b, 1988a), GTZ (1994), Hollis and Smart (1986), Hughes et al. (1997), Maamouri and Hughes (1991), Ministère de l’Environnement et de l’Aménagement du Territoire (1999), Nabli (1989), Nieri et al. (1992), Rigaux (1989), Smart (1975), Tamisier (1988), Thomsen and Jacobsen (1979), Zouaghi (1995).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Ichkeul. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016

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