|Central coordinates||43o 40.00' East 32o 40.00' North|
|IBA criteria||A1, A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2|
|Altitude||19 - 30m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Ornithological information 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).
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.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Gadwall Anas strepera||winter||1979||3,000 individuals||poor||A4i, B1i||Least Concern|
|Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata||winter||1975-1979||2,526-5,372 individuals||poor||A4i, B1i||Least Concern|
|Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris||breeding||1997||-||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|
|Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus||breeding||1979||100 breeding pairs||poor||B1i||Least Concern|
|Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus||passage||1979||500 individuals||poor||A4i, B1i||Least Concern|
|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||-||poor||A4iii|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Artificial landscapes (aquatic)||100%|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
Other biodiversity No information available to BirdLife International.
Management considerations No conservation measures are known to have been taken. In the winter of 1991-1992, over 40,000 ducks and over 40,000 Fulica atra were estimated to have been sold in the markets of Karbala and Najaf, most of these probably having come from Bahr Al Milh and Haur Al Hammar (K. Y. Al-Dabbagh in litt.). In the 1970s it appeared that military activities and the use of the area for recreation might pose threats. Shrimp farming and the introduction of tilapia fish have both been proposed for Bahr Al Milh. No conservation measures are known to have been proposed.
References Carp (1975a,b), Ctyroký (1987), Scott and Carp (1982).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Bahr Al Milh. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/05/2013
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