|Location||Iraq, Salah ad-Din|
|Central coordinates||43o 22.00' East 34o 20.00' North|
|IBA criteria||A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2, B3|
|Year of IBA assessment||1994|
Site description Lying between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, 120 km north of Baghdad in north-central Iraq, the site comprises c.80,000 ha of the north-eastern part of Lake Tharthar (Mileh Tharthar, c.230,000 ha) plus a large adjacent area of semi-desert to the east (c.375,000 ha). The lake is deep and nutrient-poor. The site's northern edge runs just south of the Baiji-Haditha road, and the eastern edge is 10 km from Samara, Tikrit and Baiji. The soil is calcareous with a rather uniform surface: a pavement of small sandy stones in the south and central parts, and mainly sandy in the north (near Baiji). Low hills rise near Lake Tharthar, these being covered with larger stones. A few shallow wadis cross the area, running towards the lake, and the area has a rich supply of underground water. Vegetation is sparse, and mainly small shrubs (Haloxylon, Achillea, Artemisia, Rhanterium), though there are patches of denser growth, particularly in depressions, and scattered small Ziziphus trees. After the light December-February rains, most of the area develops a thin cover of grasses and annuals. Using water from tube-wells, the area has been farmed since c.1980, and there are now at least 150-200 farms of c.10 ha each, mostly in the south and east of the site. There is some sheep grazing. A strip of land c.20 km wide along the lake shore is not exploited because of the unsuitable soils. Lake Tharthar is connected to the Tigris by an inlet canal via the Samara Dam, and is used for water storage and flood-relief; an outlet canal feeds back into the Tigris further downstream, and a branch from this canal reaches south to feed into the Euphrates as well.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|See-see Partridge Ammoperdix griseogularis||resident||1988-1989||10 individuals||poor||B3||Least Concern|
|Mallard Anas platyrhynchos||winter||1988-1989||10,000 individuals||poor||A4i, B1i||Least Concern|
|Common Pochard Aythya ferina||winter||1988-1989||10,000 individuals||poor||A4i, B1i||Least Concern|
|Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca||winter||1988-1989||10 individuals||poor||B1i, B2||Near Threatened|
|Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus||non-breeding||1988-1989||4 individuals||poor||B2||Endangered|
|Finsch's Wheatear Oenanthe finschii||resident||1988-1989||6 individuals||poor||B3||Least Concern|
|A4iii Species group - waterbirds||winter||1988-1989||31,000 individuals||poor||A4iii|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
Other biodiversity Mammals: Canis lupus (V) and Gazella subgutturosa (rare). Reptiles: Varanus griseus (rare). Flora: the general area is very important for harbouring wild relatives of important cereal crop species.
Acknowledgements Data-sheet compiled by Dr Khalid Y. Al-Dabbagh.
References Al-Dabbagh (in prep.), Carp (1975a), Koning and Dijksen (1973).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mahzam and Lake Tharthar. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 11/12/2013
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