email a friend
printable version
Location Tunisia, Sfax
Central coordinates 10o 43.00' East  34o 38.00' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii
Area 1,900 ha
Altitude 2 - 3m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Association "Les Amis des Oiseaux"

Site description The Thyna saltpans, immediately to the south of Sfax, are, with the Monastir saltpans (TN021), the only remaining commercially exploited saltpans in Tunisia, and much the biggest. The succession of shallow pools, of varying depth and salinity, provide prime habitat for waterbirds of all kinds and the constant supervision and wardening means that disturbance is restricted to a minimum. Their commercial exploitation means that there is always water available, even at the end of the long dry summer. The Thyna saltpans are, like Kerkennah (TN026), Kneiss (TN032), Oued Akarit (TN034), Bordj Kastil (TN036), Gourine (TN037) and Boughrara (TN038), situated at the centre of the Gulf of Gabès which, with its high tidal movement, is almost unique in the Mediterranean. Just offshore of Thyna are the tidal harbour of Sfax and extensive tidal mudflats, separated from the saltpans by an embankment.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. See under Kneiss (site TN032) for a general statement of the ornithological importance of the Gulf of Gabès; the waders and piscivorous birds mentioned there all occur at Thyna. The Thyna saltpans provide feeding habitat for numerous waterbirds in the pools and birds feeding on the nearby mudflats and shallow waters use the saltpans as a high-tide roost. The site is an important site for wintering Phalacrocorax carbo (up to 4,000) and Limosa limosa (up to 2,000). In winters when surrounding freshwater sites are dry, Grus grus roost in the saltpans. Large numbers of waterbirds also breed, including Egretta garzetta (100 pairs), Larus genei (700 pairs), Sterna nilotica (70 pairs), S. hirundo (250 pairs) and S. albifrons (80 pairs). Marmaronetta angustirostris regularly breeds in small numbers (1–3 pairs). Numenius tenuirostris was last recorded here in 1992 (1–4 individuals). Phoenicopterus ruber attempts to nest almost annually.

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  600-2,500 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus winter  750-7,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia winter  200-600 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta breeding  1,000 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta winter  1,000-2,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Little Stint Calidris minuta winter  2,500-5,500 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea winter  2,000-5,500 individuals  A4i  Near Threatened 
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei breeding  1,400 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei winter  1,400-3,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis winter  400-3,500 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

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

Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - persecution/control likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
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%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases problematic native species/diseases - unspecified species likely in short term (within 4 years) majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Tadorna tadorna Common Shelduck 750 1277 individuals 100 favourable
Marmaronetta angustirostris Marbled Teal 1 3 breeding pairs 100 favourable
Marmaronetta angustirostris Marbled Teal 1 14 individuals 100 favourable
Oxyura leucocephala White-headed Duck 1 9 individuals 100 favourable
Podiceps nigricollis Black-necked Grebe 2200 240 individuals 11 very unfavourable
Phoenicopterus roseus Greater Flamingo 1325 8106 individuals 100 favourable
Platalea leucorodia Eurasian Spoonbill 120 93 individuals 78 near favourable
Egretta garzetta Little Egret 100 120 breeding pairs 100 favourable
Himantopus himantopus Black-winged Stilt 770 1390 individuals 100 favourable
Recurvirostra avosetta Pied Avocet 1000 1446 individuals 100 favourable
Charadrius alexandrinus Kentish Plover 660 1619 individuals 100 favourable
Glareola pratincola Collared Pratincole 190 54 breeding pairs 29 very unfavourable
Sterna nilotica 70 100 breeding pairs 100 favourable
Larus genei Slender-billed Gull 1400 5290 individuals 100 favourable
Larus genei Slender-billed Gull 700 3350 breeding pairs 100 favourable
Sterna hirundo Common Tern 250 500 breeding pairs 100 favourable
Sternula albifrons Little Tern 80 160 individuals 100 favourable
Species group - waterbirds A4iii 20000 35210 individuals 100 favourable

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  A management plan exists but it is out of date or not comprehensive  Substantive conservation measures are being implemented but these are not comprehensive and are limited by resources and capacity  medium 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Salines de Thyna Wetland Zone of National Importance 860 protected area contained by site 860  
Salines de Thyna Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 3,343 protected area contains site 1,900  

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

Name Year formed
AAO/ Sfax Regional Branch 2000

Land use

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

References Dalensi (1998), Gaultier (1988a, b), Hughes et al. (1997), Ministère de l’Agriculture, Direction Générale des Forêts (2000), Thomsen and Jacobsen (1979).

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Salines de Thyna. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016

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