|Central coordinates||43o 40.00' East 32o 41.00' North|
|IBA criteria||A1, A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2|
|Altitude||28 - 56m|
|Year of IBA assessment||1994|
Summary 2014 updates. In Evans (1994), this area is listed under the name “Bahr Al Milh” (IBA 021) but it is more commonly referred to as Razzaza Lake
Site description Bahr Al Milh is a very large, deep and brackish lake in a closed, sand/silt basin 95 km south-west of Baghdad, surrounded by desert and with a low cliff shore in many places. It was created in the late 1970s as a second storage reservoir (below Haur Al Habbaniya, site 016) to control floods on the River Euphrates. The salinity of the lake has been increasing since its creation and now stands at about 2.0-2.2%. There are many islands and peninsulas. Lake Usathe (also called Shithathah lake, 32°37'N 43°55'E, c.100 ha) lies a few kilometres from the south-east corner of Bahr Al Milh. It is a small, shallow, freshwater lake with some emergent vegetation. The surrounding area has some sandy cliffs and is sparsely vegetated. 2014 updates. Razzaza Lake is connected to Habbaniya Lake by a narrow canal running through semi-desert, called Sin-Al-Thibban Canal. Razzaza used to be a large, deep lake,but it is now characterized by very high salinity levels, which have increased during the past ten years due to the shortage in water it receives and increased evaporation during Iraq’s very dry, hot summers. Locals report that water levels have declined and the lake is likely now to be only 5–10 m deep. The extensive shrinkage of the lakeduring the 2000sis graphically seen in a series of satellite images taken in summer. These are not seasonal changes but are based on management issues that need to be resolved regarding water allocation to Razazza via the Sin-Al-Thibban Canal from Habbaniya Lake. The geology of the area is marls, siltstones, gypsum/anhydrite, and limestone bands, mainly silts and the main habitats beside the lake are beds of Phragmites australis, Juncus acutus, Aeluropus lagapoides, Salicornia herbacea, and Schoenoplectuslittoralisand desert shrublands such asTamarix aucherana, T. macrocarpa, Prosopis farcta, Zygophyllum fabago, Nitraria retusa, and Haloxylon salicornicum.
Key Biodiversity See box for key species (some counts from the Karbala area are included). The lake is important for breeding Marmaronetta angustirostris, and holds huge numbers of wintering waterfowl. In January 1979 107,000 waterfowl were counted on Bahr Al Milh, even though only two points in the vast wetland area were surveyed, including very large concentrations of Podiceps cristatus, P. nigricollis, Phalacrocorax carbo, Pelecanus onocrotalus, Mergellus albellus and Fulica atra, while Lake Usathe held 30,500 waterfowl including good numbers of Phoenicopterus ruber, dabbling ducks and Recurvirostra avosetta. Pelecanus crispus was recorded at both lakes. Bahr Al Milh was listed as a wetland of international importance by Carp (1980).
Non-bird biodiversity: No information available to BirdLife International.2014 updates. Razzaza Lake harbors considerable numbers of waterfowl (particularly the globally threatened Marmaronetta angustirostris) and its mudflats attract large number of waders and shorebirds during their passage. It also has a considerable number of inaccessible marshlands that are important for breeding birds, in addition to the islands that are perfect for breeding gull and tern species in quite good numbers Additional Important Bird Observations: During the surveys, 42 bird species were observed. Razaza Lake provides vast areas of mudflats that are suitable habitat for large numbers of migrant and wintering waterfowl and waders. There is a resident population of Greater FlamingoPhoenicopterusroseusthat might use this wetland for breeding. Important Other Fauna: The valleys and dense plant cover (including orchards) on the western side of the lake and the flat arid/semi-desert areas on the eastern and southern parts of the lake might harbor considerable wildlife diversity; however, these areas were not surveyed during the KBA surveys. According to local reports, mammals include:Rüppell's FoxVulpesrueppellii, Golden Jackal Canisaureus, Indian Grey Mongoose Herpestesedwardsii, Jungle Cat Felischaus, Wild Cat Felissilvestrisand other common species. At this time only one old fisherman could be found who reported that only one fish species is found in the lake, called locally Shanak, (Acanthopagrus cf. arabicus), which is a marine fish in origin and is stocked at the site by the government to support fishing in the lake
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Gadwall Mareca strepera||winter||1979||3,000 individuals||poor||A4i, B1i||Least Concern|
|Northern Shoveler Spatula clypeata||winter||1975-1979||2,526-5,372 individuals||poor||A4i, B1i||Least Concern|
|Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris||breeding||1997||50-249 individuals||poor||A1, A4i, B1i, B2||Vulnerable|
|Smew Mergellus albellus||winter||1979||1,000 individuals||poor||A4i, B1i||Least Concern|
|Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus||winter||1975||7-600 individuals||poor||A4i, B1i||Least Concern|
|Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis||winter||1975||40-1,100 individuals||poor||A4i, B1i||Least Concern|
|Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus||winter||1975-1979||2,365-3,500 individuals||poor||A4i, B1i||Least Concern|
|Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus||winter||1979||601 individuals||poor||A4i||Least Concern|
|Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo||winter||1975||1,500-3,001 individuals||poor||A4i, B1i||Least Concern|
|Common Coot Fulica atra||winter||1975-1979||96,250-102,522 individuals||poor||A4i, B1i||Least Concern|
|Himantopus himantopus||breeding||1979||100 breeding pairs||poor||B1i||Not Recognised|
|Himantopus himantopus||passage||1979||500 individuals||poor||A4i, B1i||Not Recognised|
|Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta||winter||1979||300 individuals||poor||A4i, B1i||Least Concern|
|White-tailed Lapwing Vanellus leucurus||resident||1979||300 breeding pairs||poor||A4i, B1i||Least Concern|
|A4iii Species group - waterbirds||winter||1975-1979||100,000-499,999 individuals||poor||A4iii|
|2013||very high||not assessed||negligible|
|Natural system modifications||dams & water management/use - large dams||happening now||whole area/population (>90%)||very rapid to severe deterioration||very high|
|Little/none of site covered (<10%)||No management planning has taken place||Not assessed||negligible|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Artificial - aquatic||100%|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
Acknowledgements Data-sheet compiled by Pavel Ctyroky, reviewed by Dr Khalid Y. Al-Dabbagh and Dr Hanna Y. Siman.
References Carp (1975a,b), Ctyroký (1987), Scott and Carp (1982). Evans, M. I. (1994). Important Bird Areas in the Middle East. Cambridge, UK: BirdLife International. Birdlife Conservation Series No. 2 . Salim, M. A. (2008). Natural Overview of Ar-Razzaza Lake. Unpublished internal technical report. Nature Iraq.
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Razzaza Lake (Bahr Al Milh) . Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/01/2015
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