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Location Iraq, Al-Qadisiyah,Wasit
Central coordinates 45o 28.00' East  32o 12.00' North
IBA criteria A4iii
Area 92,076 ha
Altitude 14 - 23m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Nature Iraq (Affiliate)

Site description A large, isolated haur to the west of the River Tigris, about 35 km south-west of Kut town. The haur receives overflow from irrigation canals and floodwater from the Tigris. 2014 updates. Dalmaj wetland contains both terrestrial habitats ranging from arid areas to true desert with sand dunes, and a large body of water that can be divided into an open-water lake reaching depths exceeding 2 m and true marshes with dense reedbeds and shallower water (less than 1 m). The geology of the area is Mesopotamian alluvium, mainly silts.

Key Biodiversity The site was listed as a wetland of international importance by Carp (1980), but no specific ornithological information is available.

Non-bird biodiversity: No information available to BirdLife International.

2014 updates. Dalmaj is rich in biodiversity, being a wintering ground for numerous waterfowl and a main breeding area for Marbled Duck Marmaronettaangustirostris, Ferruginous Duck Aythyanyroca, and Red-crested PochardNettarufina, three of the four known breeding ducks in Iraq, and a major breeding site for the endemic Basra Reed Warbler Additional Important Bird Observations: A total of 140 species have been observed. In addition to those mentioned in the table the Vulnerable Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca and the Near Threatened Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquataare regularly seen on migration and in winter but in sub-IBA threshold numbers. The Irano-Turanian biome-restricted Menetries’s Warbler Sylvia mystaceais resident. The endemic race of Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis iraquensis and the Iraqi race of Hooded Crow Corvus cornix capellanus (also known as Mesopotamian Crow) both occur. This site boasts significant fauna diversity in comparison with other sites of similar area. Though mammals were not consistently the subject of the survey effort, 19 species were found or reported in Dalmaj including Honey Badger Mellivoracapensis, Caracal Caracal,StripedHyenaHyaenahyaena(Near Threatened), Ruppell’s Fox Vulpesrueppellii, Gray Wolf Canis lupus, Otter Lutralutra(Near Threatened), Wild Boar Susscrofa(in quite large herds) and wild cat (either Felissilvestrisor F. chaus). According to reports by locals and hunters, the last group of gazelles in Dalmaj was seen in the late 1990s. These were likely Goitered Gazelle Gazellasubgutturosa(Vulnerable). Due to the lack of observations, and increasing disturbance, the likelihood of gazelle presence in Dalmaj is now likely to be low. A notable reptile observed at Dalmaj was the Desert Monitor Varanus griseus. Dalmaj is one of the most important wetlands in Iraq for fish. The BunniMesopotamichthyssharpeyiin Dalmaj appears to be the last healthy stock found in southern Iraq and might be an important source for the re-introduction of this species into the southern marshes of Iraq. Fish data were collected from 2006 to 2009, when nine species were reported. According to Coad’s (2010), the following significant species were:Carassiusauratus, Cyprinuscarpio,Heteropneustesfossilis,Carasobarbusluteus, Leuciscusvorax, Liza abu, Mesopotamichthyssharpeyi and Silurustriostegus.Mastacembelusmastacembeluswasalso documented, which is of no economic importance but their conservation status in Iraq is unknown. Additionally, in recent years introduced Tilapiazilliihave become increasing reported by fishermen.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  1979  20,000 individuals  poor  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2013 very high not assessed negligible

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - agro-industry farming happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now whole area/population (>90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Energy production and mining oil and gas drilling likely in long term (beyond 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) very rapid to severe deterioration low
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas likely in long term (beyond 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration medium

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


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland)   100%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
unknown -

Protection status 2014 updates. Due to the biological diversity of the marsh and the many threats it faces, Dalmaj would particularly benefit from more formal protection and in 2013, this site was identified as a proposed protected area by the National Protected Area Committee (NPAC)

Acknowledgements Information compiled by Dr D. A. Scott and D. J. Brooks, reviewed by Dr Khalid Y. Al-Dabbagh and Dr Hanna Y. Siman.

References 2014 updates. Coad B. W. (2010) Freshwater Fishes of Iraq.PENSOFT Publishers, Sofia-Moscow.No.93. Evans, M.I. (1994) Important Bird Areas in the Middle East.International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, UK.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Dalmaj Marsh. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

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