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Location Tunisia, Ben Arous,Tunis
Central coordinates 10o 30.00' East  36o 45.00' North
IBA criteria A4i
Area 3,700 ha
Altitude 5 m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Association "Les Amis des Oiseaux"

Site description Lake Tunis is a large, shallow lagoon, possibly a former mouth of the Medjerda river, once connected to the sea, but now separated from it on the eastern side by the coastal dunes on which Carthage and La Goulette stand. Tunis, the capital, is situated on higher ground to the west of the lake, and is gradually spreading all round it, joining up with Radès on the southern side. The lake is bisected by a ship canal and motorway. In the northern half of the lake is the island of Chikly which has a ruined Spanish fortress on it. The southern half of the lake includes the former salt-production pans at Radès/Mégrine. The lake formerly received most of the sewage effluent and rainwater run-off from Tunis, but in the 1960s and 1970s, a clean-up operation was carried out, with waste-water being piped to a treatment station at Ariana, and circulation of water in the shallow lake improved. In the 1980s, most of the northern shores of the lagoon were reclaimed for urban expansion, destroying all natural habitat. The same has occurred in the late 1990s in the southern half of the lagoon, and the saltpans have been closed and filled in. The current ornithological status of the lake is uncertain, as the reclamation work on the south of the lake is still in progress, but it is likely that it will retain very little of its former ornithological interest, although some birds originating from nearby Sebkhet Sedjoumi and Ariana may still occur.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. Other wintering waterbirds found on Lake Radès include many hundreds of Podiceps nigricollis (a species rarely found in such numbers elsewhere in Tunisia), Casmerodius albus, Ardea cinerea, Plegadis falcinellus, Platalea leucorodia, Tadorna tadorna (200–2,000), T. ferruginea, Anas acuta (500–800), A. clypeata (1,000–2,000), Aythya fuligula, A. ferina, Fulica atra (500–4,000), Himantopus himantopus, Larus genei, L. ridibundus, L. cachinnans and Sterna albifrons. The island of Chikly has breeding colonies of about 70 pairs of Egretta garzetta and about 100 pairs of Larus cachinnans which breed at the base of the ruins, together with the occasional Tadorna tadorna, and with Falco peregrinus and F. tinnunculus in the ruins themselves. Elsewhere, around the shores of the lake, there were formerly extensive breeding colonies of Sterna albifrons and Glareola pratincola, with good populations of Charadrius alexandrinus, Himantopus himantopus and Burhinus oedicnemus; it is unlikely that many of these breeding waders will survive the recent reclamation.

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis winter  500-3,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus breeding  1,000-5,000 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia winter  80-220 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo winter  2,000-6,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2009 high very unfavourable low
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible 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
Human intrusions and disturbance work and other activities happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - abstraction of surface water (unknown use) happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Pollution domestic & urban waste water - type unknown/unrecorded happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Transportation and service corridors roads and railroads happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high

Species group - waterbirds A4iii 20000 3186 individuals 16 very unfavourable

Most of site (50-90%) covered (including the most critical parts for important bird species)  A management plan exists but it is out of date or not comprehensive  Some limited conservation initiatives are in place  low 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Ile Chikly Natural Reserve 3 protected area contained by site 3  

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  major

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
hunting -
urban/industrial/transport -

References Arnoud and Lachaux (1974), Ben Maïz and Boudouresque (1984), Gaultier (1986, 1987b, 1988a), Hughes et al. (1997), Maamouri and Hughes (1991), Ministère de l’Agriculture, Direction Générale des Forêts (2000), Shili (1995).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Lake Tunis (Lake Radès). Downloaded from on 25/10/2016

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