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Location Bahrain, Southern
Central coordinates 50o 45.17' East  25o 39.46' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2, B3
Area 22,800 ha
Altitude 0 - 28m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Bahrain Natural History Society (Affiliate)



Site description A group of 16 small, limestone, desert islands and islets in the Gulf of Salwah, some with cliffs up to 20-30 m high. There is c.20% vegetation cover of saltmarsh bushes, and very extensive seagrass beds in the shallow, clear sea offshore. A highly productive nursery and feeding area for fish. The islands are uninhabited apart from a military garrison.

Key Biodiversity The islands support the largest known breeding concentration in the world of Phalacrocorax nigrogularis. The main breeding site is on Suwad al Janubiyah island, where 200,000 to 300,000 adults were conservatively estimated to be present in November 1992, along with thousands of nests with eggs. Other breeding species include Sterna caspia (max. 10 pairs), S. anaethetus (max. 100 pairs) and Pandion haliaetus (max. 9 pairs). Wintering species include Podiceps cristatus (min. 50) and Phoenicopterus ruber (750).

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: the second largest population in the world of Dugong dugon (V) occurs here (700+); unspecified Gazella spp. on Hawar island (apparently introduced). Reptiles: the sea-turtles Chelonia mydas (E), Eretmochelys imbricata (E), Dermochelys coriacea (E) and Caretta caretta (V) occur, and Chelonia mydas may breed.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Egretta gularis passage  1991  200 individuals  poor  B1i  Not Recognised 
Egretta gularis resident  1991  10-100 breeding pairs  poor  B1i  Not Recognised 
Socotra Cormorant Phalacrocorax nigrogularis breeding  1992  200,000-300,000 adults only  medium  A1, A4i, B1i, B2  Vulnerable 
Sooty Falcon Falco concolor breeding  1991  13 breeding pairs  good  B2  Near Threatened 
Saunders's Tern Sternula saundersi breeding  1991  10-100 breeding pairs  poor  B3  Least Concern 
White-cheeked Tern Sterna repressa breeding  1991  10-100 breeding pairs  poor  B3  Least Concern 
White-cheeked Tern Sterna repressa passage  1991  2,000 individuals  poor  B3  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds breeding  1992  200,000-300,000 adults only  medium  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2007 very high favourable medium
Population
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Climate change and severe weather storms and floods likely in long term (beyond 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration medium
Climate change and severe weather temperature extremes likely in short term (within 4 years) whole area/population (>90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Invasive and other problematic species and genes invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Invasive and other problematic species and genes problematic native species/diseases - named species happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Residential and commercial development tourism and recreation areas likely in short term (within 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low

Egretta gularis 325 325 breeding pairs 100 favourable
Phalacrocorax nigrogularis Socotra Cormorant 20539 20539 breeding pairs 100 favourable
Falco concolor Sooty Falcon 15 15 breeding pairs 100 favourable
Sterna repressa White-cheeked Tern 3408 3408 breeding pairs 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  Some limited conservation initiatives are in place  medium 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Hawar Islands Protected Area 5,150 protected area contained by site 5,150  
Hawar Islands Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 5,200 protected area contained by site 5,200  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Desert Hot  22%
Coastline Brackish & saline lagoons; Intertidal mud, sand & salt flats; Rocky shores; Sand, shingle & pebble shores; Shallow marine waters; Subtidal aquatic beds  78%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
military 20%
Notes: A military base was established in Hawar Islands in 1984. During the last years, however, military activities have continue to show steady decline.
fisheries/aquaculture 10%
Notes: Fishing with nets and any destructive gear is legally prohibited around Hawar Islands. Artisanal fishing with hook and line is often practiced.
tourism/recreation 15%
Notes: Situated along the western coastline of the main island (Hawar) are a resort hotel and around 100 chalets. Tourist activities peak during the period from May to November. It is estimated that around 23,500 tourists (85% are Bahraini) visit Hawar Islands annually. In addition to bus tours organized to selected terrestrial sites, recreational activities include swimming, surfing and jetting. Almost all these activities are restricted to the main island (Hawar). Opportunistic boat trips (principally for bird watchers) are occasionally organized.
not utilised 80%
Notes: Most of the landmass of Hawar Islands has been preserved in a pristine condition with no evidence of current human activities. Fortunately, most of present human uses are confined to the main Island (Hawar) which is not very important for birds.

Acknowledgements Data-sheet compiled by Dr S. A. Mohamed and E. Hirschfeld, reviewed by Dr K. Fakhro.

Acknowledgements The information on Key Biodiversity Areas for birds is based on ; full acknowledgements are listed in that publication. Some updating of site information may have occurred since then, according to available resources. Comments, corrections and updates are encouraged and should be directed to the BirdLife A for Bahrain:

Bahrain Natural History Society

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Hawar Islands. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/12/2014

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