|Central coordinates||47o 38.00' East 31o 22.00' North|
|IBA criteria||A1, A2, A3, A4iii, B1i, B2, B3|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Ornithological information According to Savage (1968), Haur Al Hawizeh provides wintering habitat for some of the largest concentrations of wildfowl in the world. Large numbers of Anser anser, Anas platyrhynchos, A. strepera, A. crecca, A. penelope, A. acuta, A. clypeata, Netta rufina, Aythya ferina, A. fuligula, Phoenicopterus ruber and Fulica atra are believed to occur in winter, while A. querquedula is common on passage (Georg and Savage 1970b). However, no systematic ornithological surveys or waterfowl counts have ever been undertaken in the Iraqi portion of these marshes. Haur Al Hawizeh was listed as a wetland of international importance by Carp (1980).
Site description Situated to the east of the River Tigris, Haur Al Hawizeh (Hawaizah) and its associated marshes cover an area of approximately 2,200 km2 between Amara and Basrah (31°00'N--31°45'N, 47°25'E--47°50'E). A small portion of the haur extends over the border into Iranian territory, where it is known as the Hoor Al Azim. The wetland is fed by floodwaters from the River Tigris and from the Karkheh river in the east (in Iran); it is bordered in the north by the Musharra Canal and in the south by the Shatt Al Arab. The marsh is partly seasonal and partly permanent. The latter area has extensive Phragmites reedbeds alternating with open sheets of water. The Nahrsabla Marshes (31°30'N 47°35'E) are an area of predominantly seasonal marsh in the north-eastern portion of the haur, near the Iranian border.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Black Francolin Francolinus francolinus||resident||1985||common [units unknown]||-||B2||Least Concern|
|Lesser White-fronted Goose Anser erythropus||winter||1960-1969||present [units unknown]||-||A1, B2||Vulnerable|
|Great Bittern Botaurus stellaris||winter||1985||present [units unknown]||-||B2||Least Concern|
|African Darter Anhinga rufa||resident||1915||common [units unknown]||-||B1i, B2||Least Concern|
|Grey Hypocolius Hypocolius ampelinus||breeding||1985||present [units unknown]||-||A3, B3||Least Concern|
|Basra Reed-warbler Acrocephalus griseldis||breeding||1985||abundant [units unknown]||-||A1, A2, A3, B2||Endangered|
|Iraq Babbler Turdoides altirostris||resident||1985||present [units unknown]||-||A2, A3||Least Concern|
|A4iii Species group - waterbirds||winter||1979||20,000 individuals||poor||A4iii|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Hawizeh Marshes (Haur Al-Hawizeh)||Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar)||137,700||is identical to site||137,700|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Artificial landscapes (aquatic)||minor|
|Artificial landscapes (terrestrial)||minor|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
Other biodiversity Mammals: Canis lupus (V), Lutra perspicillata (K; the subspecies L. p. maxwelli is endemic to the marshes and endangered), Gerbillus mesopotamiae (endemic).
Management considerations No nature conservation measures are known to have been taken. An August 1992 Landsat image shows that large areas of the north-western, western and southern shores have been drained, using river control and dyke-building, apparently for security reasons. However, the haur is not under immediate threat of widespread drainage on the vast scale which has affected the Central Marshes and Haur Al Hammar, since it receives much of its water from Iranian rivers which are not currently subject to major flood control, drainage and irrigation projects. Reports from sources in Iraq and Iraq suggest that the marsh vegetation on both sides of the border was badly damaged during the Iran/Iraq war, and there may have been significant wildlife mortality. Several of the largest battles occurred in and around these marshes, involving heavy bombing and shelling, extensive burning and the use of chemical weapons. Large areas of reedbed were cut or burnt in the search for rebels after the 1980-1988 and 1990-1991 Gulf Wars. According to the Landsat image from August 1992, the southern quarter of the marshes is probably now saline, since it appears to be shallow (less than 1 m deep) yet does not support any emergent vegetation. Furthermore, compared to a Landsat image from 1984, it appears that the southern edge of emergent vegetation (Phragmites) has retreated northwards by 20 km, implying that any such salinization is a recent development. Although there is little information available, the area must be considered highly threatened if not already severely damaged. Persistent pesticides are reported to have been used to kill and catch fish. No conservation measures are known to have been proposed.
References Carp (1980), Georg and Savage (1970b), North (1993), Pearce (1993), Prentice (1993), Savage (1968), Ticehurst et al. (1921-1922).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Haur Al Hawizeh. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/05/2013
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