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Location Iraq, Arbil,As-Sulaymaniyah,Dahuk
Central coordinates 44o 55.00' East  36o 10.00' North
IBA criteria A4iii, B2, B3
Area 40,000 ha
Altitude 300 - 600m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Nature Iraq (Affiliate)

Site description Dukan and Darbandikhan are two dammed lakes, each c.30 km long, lying in the foothills of Kurdistan in north-east Iraq. Dukan (36°10'N 44°55'E, c.25,000 ha) is in the Lesser Zab river valley, and Darbandikhan (35°10'N 45°45'E, c.7,500 ha) is in the Diyala river valley. Contrary to most maps, construction of the Bakhma dam (36°45'N 44°15'E) in the Great Zab river valley has not been completed, having presumably been abandoned in 1991, and there is as yet no lake there. The general aspect is of deep valleys eroded into limestone country, with steep and craggy slopes. There are patches of semi-natural parkland of small oak Quercus and juniper Juniperus trees on slopes, particularly extensive and undisturbed around Bakhma. There is limited cultivation of tobacco, rice, wheat and vines on the flood-plains in the valleys; the main land-use is as rangeland for goats and sheep. Dukan and Darbandikhan dams are presumably used to generate hydroelectric power.

Key Biodiversity The lakes are likely to be important for wintering waterfowl, but no surveys have been carried out. The three river valleys supported large numbers of wintering ducks in the 1960s (Savage 1968). The surrounding hills and crags are likely to support important numbers of breeding raptors, e.g. vultures, eagles and falcons. Other breeding species include Ciconia ciconia, Alectoris chukar and Sitta tephronota.

Non-bird biodiversity: Flora: the general area is very important for harbouring wild relatives of important cereal crop species.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus breeding  1985  present  B2  Near Threatened 
Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus breeding  1985  present  B2  Least Concern 
Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus resident  1985  common  B2  Endangered 
Radde's Accentor Prunella ocularis winter  1985  present  B3  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  1985  20,000 individuals  poor  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2013 high not assessed negligible

Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high

Little/none of site covered (<10%)  No management planning has taken place  Not assessed  negligible 


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest   major
Grassland   major
Wetlands (inland)   major

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
rangeland/pastureland major
agriculture minor
water management 75%

Acknowledgements Information from C. King.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Bakhma, Dukan and Darbandikhan dams. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016

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