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Location Tunisia, Kairouan
Central coordinates 9o 54.00' East  35o 35.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i
Area 1,200 ha
Altitude 242 m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Association "Les Amis des Oiseaux"

Site description El Houareb reservoir is a man-made water-body built about 20 years ago on the Oued Merguellil, 35 km east of Kairouan, for flood-control and water-supply purposes. Where the river emerges from the Dorsale the reservoir is bordered by higher land, but also has extensive flat shores. It retains the waters which once flowed into Sebkha Kelbia (site TN020). It has an average depth of nearly 20 m, but in periods of poor rainfall, it can remain completely dry for several years on end. The surrounding vegetation is composed mainly of Tamarix africana, Typha angustifolia and Juncus species. The waterplant Potamogeton pectinatus grows commonly in the reservoir and provides the main food-source for wildfowl.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. The reservoir has become one of the most important sites in Tunisia for breeding M. angustirostris and O. leucocephala (whose numbers appear to be augmented in winter)—although it is not clear where these species go in dry years. Other species, including Podiceps cristatus and Tachybaptus ruficollis, also breed. The site is a wintering site for a broad array of species, including Phalacrocorax carbo, Casmerodius albus, Anas penelope, A. acuta, A. clypeata, Aythya ferina, A. fuligula and Fulica atra. In addition, eight species of the Mediterranean North Africa biome (A01) have been recorded (see Table 2).

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
Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris breeding  1999  150-620 adults only  unknown  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca winter  1993  1,400 individuals  unknown  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala winter  334 individuals  A1, A4i  Endangered 

IBA Monitoring

2009 very high not assessed low
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

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
Geological events earthquakes/tsunamis happening now whole area/population (>90%) moderate to rapid deterioration very high

Little/none of site covered (<10%)  No management plan exists but the management planning process has begun  Substantive conservation measures are being implemented but these are not comprehensive and are limited by resources and capacity  low 

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

Name Year formed
AAO/ Kairouan Regional Branch 2000

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
hunting -
water management -

References Gaultier (1988a), Green (1993), Hughes et al. (1997), Meininger et al. (1994).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: El Houareb reservoir. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016

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