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Location Iraq, Maysan
Central coordinates 46o 50.00' East  32o 20.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, B1i, B2
Area 33,560 ha
Altitude 8 - 17m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Nature Iraq (Affiliate)

Site description A group of 14 artificial ponds constructed for wildfowl hunting, in the basin of the former Haur Al Haushiya, on the east bank of the River Tigris, north of the village of Al Kumait. 2014 updates. Part of this site, Hor Saaroot (IBA024 in Evans, 1994) is a seasonal marsh on a flat plain running in a narrow band along the eastern part of the Tigris between the towns of Ali Al-Gharbi and Amara. The approximate length is about 60 km and the width approximately 8 km Hoshiya is a flat plain south of Saaroot, which floods during the rainy season. Hoshiya, which was listed by Evans (1994) as IBA028, is really a part of Saaroot (IBA 024). This area also receives some waters from the Tigris when the water level exceeds a certain point, via a canal with a barrage. Some embankments and unpaved roads exist around the area, which are used during summer only The geology of the entire area is Mesopotamian alluvium, mainly silts

Key Biodiversity Georg and Vielliard (1968) visited eight of the 14 ponds in January 1968, and they were also visited in January 1979. Other notable winter visitors included Ciconia ciconia (110) and Calidris minuta (500).

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

2014 updates. Additional Important Bird Observation: During the surveys, 39 bird species were observed in this seasonal marsh area. In addition to those in the table above, the area provides good habitat for large numbers of wintering waterfowl during the rainy season. The open plain areas also provide good habitat for the Vulnerable Macqueen’s Bustard Chlamydotis macqueenii and raptors, e.g Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca (Vulnerable). Even though few Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris (Vulnerable) were seen in winter, the area might harbor many more of this species. The restricted-range Iraq Babbler Turdoides altirostris was found breeding in this area, but did not trigger the A2 criterion. The site also held breeding populations of six Sahara-Sindian Desert biome-restricted species (Appendix XX) but this did not trigger inclusion under A3 criterion. Important Other Fauna: According to frequent reports by locals and hunters, the reported animals are: Honey Badger Mellivora capensis, Striped Hyena Hyaena hyaena (Near Threatened), Red Fox/Ruppell’s Fox Vulpes sp., Golden Jackal Canis aureus, and Grey Wolf Canis lupus. Some reptiles were observed, but not identified. No fish data were collected.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Gadwall Mareca strepera winter  1979  1,310 individuals  poor  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris breeding  1997  < 50 individuals  poor  A1, B1i, B2  Vulnerable 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta winter  1979  500 individuals  poor  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2013 very high not assessed negligible

Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - large dams happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) 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

Land-use Extent (% of site)
hunting 100%
water management major
agriculture minor
urban/industrial/transport minor

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 Georg and Vielliard (1968), Scott and Carp (1982). 2014 updates. Evans, M. I. (1994). Important Bird Areas in the Middle East. Birdlife Conservation Series No. 2

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Hoshiya and Saaroot. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife