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Location Iraq, Al-Basrah
Central coordinates 47o 58.00' East  30o 27.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A4i, B1i, B2
Area 43,000 ha
Altitude 3 m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Nature Iraq (Affiliate)

Site description These marshes lie along the c.165 km of the Shatt Al Arab waterway from 31°00'N 47°25'E to 29°55'N 48°30'E, mainly between Qurnah and Basrah (c.65 km), and include Haur Al Shaibah (15 km north of Basrah), Qarmat Ali, Khamisiyah and Shafi. Shafi wetland (30°53'N 47°31'E) is a small reed-marsh near the town of Shafi on the Basrah to Amara road, 30 km from Basrah.

Key Biodiversity According to Savage (1968), the marshes are important for wintering Anser anser and dabbling ducks, mainly Anas platyrhynchos and A. crecca, and breeding Marmaronetta angustirostris. The muddy shores of the Shatt Al Arab are an important feeding area for passage and wintering shorebirds. The area was most recently surveyed in 1968, 1975 and 1979; all visits were in January, and were brief and incomplete; notable winter visitors included Ciconia ciconia (105), Milvus migrans (305) and Vanellus leucurus (50).

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris breeding  1997  250-999 individuals  poor  A1, A4i, B1i, B2  Vulnerable 
Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga winter  1975  2 individuals  poor  B2  Vulnerable 
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus winter  1975  60-4,000 individuals  poor  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Basra Reed-warbler Acrocephalus griseldis breeding  1985  present  A1, A2, B2  Endangered 

IBA Monitoring

2013 high not assessed negligible

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - small-holder farming happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high

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 -

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 Carp (1975a), Georg and Vielliard (1970), Savage (1968), Scott and Carp (1982).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Shatt Al Arab marshes. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016

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