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Location Iran, Islamic Republic of, Gilan
Central coordinates 49o 28.00' East  37o 25.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2
Area 15,000 ha
Altitude
Year of IBA assessment 1994





Site description The Anzali Mordab lies in the western part of the broad deltaic plains around the city of Rasht in the south-west Caspian region; the town of Bandar Anzali is situated at the mouth of the main Mordab lagoon. The site, which includes Siahkesheem Marsh (37°24'N 49°22'E, 6,700 ha), comprises a large, shallow, eutrophic, freshwater lagoon, fed by several rivers rising in the Alborz Mountains to the south, and separated from the Caspian Sea by a sandy barrier, c.1 km wide, with open grassland, Punica scrub and sand-dune vegetation. Mid-way along its length the lagoon empties into the Caspian through a narrow channel straddled by the busy fishing port of Anzali Mordab. Much of the centre and east of the Mordab supports vast stands of Phragmites (up to 6 m high) while the western part is mainly open water. The partially enclosed basin of the Rud-e-Esfand (Siahkesheem Marsh) in the south-west is almost entirely overgrown with dense reedbeds. The permanent wetland area is surrounded by a broad belt of flood meadows and ab-bandans (shallow impoundments which retain water for summer use in irrigation). These largely seasonal wetlands are bordered by arable land to west, south and east. Selke Ab-bandan (37°24'N 49°29'E, 360 ha) is situated on the southern edge of the main Mordab, and comprises 360 ha of shallow freshwater marsh and flood meadows with tall reedbeds to the north and arable land to the south. The wetland is surrounded by a low embankment and was originally created as a water storage pond and duck-hunting area. Other similar shallow marshes along the southern edge of the Mordab and around its eastern end continue to be maintained as private duck-hunting reserves. Open-water areas support extensive beds of the water lily Nelumbium maciferum and a very rich growth of other floating and submerged vegetation including Lemna, Potamogeton, Hydrilla, Myriophyllum and Ceratophyllum. The marshes and flood meadows to the south support similar vegetation with the addition of Trapa natans, Juncus and Carex. The Mordab is a very important spawning and nursery area for economically important species in the Caspian Sea fishery and also supports a major local fishery. Duck-hunting is an important activity in winter, including both sport hunting and market hunting for sale in local markets and export to Tehran. Many of the ab-bandans surrounding the Mordab are managed as duck-hunting areas in winter. The duck hunters employ a traditional dazzling and hand-netting technique. Elsewhere in the Mordab, hunting is by shotgun. The protected areas are in the public domain.

Key Biodiversity See box for key species. The Anzali Mordab and its satellite wetlands such as Siahkesheem Marsh and Selke Ab-bandan are extremely important for a wide variety of breeding, passage and wintering waterfowl. The wetlands support a very large breeding colony of Chlidonias hybridus, small colonies of six species of herons and egrets, up to 25 pairs of Circus aeruginosus and (at least formerly -- see below) a large resident population of Porphyrio porphyrio. They also support huge wintering concentrations of ducks, geese, swans and coots. The wetland is the most important wintering area in Iran for Phalacrocorax pygmeus (see box), and one of the most important sites for wintering Haliaeetus albicilla. At least 144 species have been recorded in Siahkesheem Protected Area and at least 157 species in Selke Wildlife Refuge, including Jynx torquilla (fairly common passage migrant).

Due to great hunting pressure the number of waterfowl wintering in Anzali Mordab in recent years has been much lower than in the 1970s, when the total count of ducks and Fulica atra usually exceeded 200,000. The great majority of waterfowl are now confined to the well protected Selke Wildlife Refuge, Siahkesheem Marsh and a chain of private duck-netting marshes along the south side of the Mordab.

Selke Wildlife Refuge continues to support large numbers of birds, but there is evidence of a change in species composition, with more diving ducks and F. atra and fewer dabbling ducks and geese than in the 1970s. This is undoubtedly a result of the higher water levels in the Refuge caused by the rise in level of the Caspian Sea.

There has been a dramatic decline in the population of P. porphyrio at Anzali Mordab in recent years. The reasons for this decline are unknown, as the extent of suitable habitat appears to have increased enormously during the last decade, but may be related to the great increase in water depth and/or spread of Azolla.

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Canis lupus (V) has been recorded during severe winters.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Northern Pintail Anas acuta winter  1970-1977  55,000 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Lesser White-fronted Goose Anser erythropus winter  1977  32 individuals  good  A1  Vulnerable 
Greater White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons winter  1970-1977  500 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Greylag Goose Anser anser winter  1977  1,500 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Mute Swan Cygnus olor winter  1977-1992  2,200-2,530 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus winter  1977-1992  711-849 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Tundra Swan Cygnus columbianus winter  1977-1992  16-51 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Gadwall Mareca strepera winter  1977-1992  7,850-14,900 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Eurasian Wigeon Mareca penelope winter  1970-1977  30,000 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos winter  1970-1977  67,800 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Northern Shoveler Spatula clypeata winter  1970-1977  24,300 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Garganey Spatula querquedula passage  1977  3,850 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Common Teal Anas crecca winter  1970-1977  540,000 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Common Pochard Aythya ferina winter  1970-1977  65,000 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca passage  1977  130 individuals  good  A1, B1i, B2  Near Threatened 
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca winter  1970-1977  51 individuals  good  B1i  Near Threatened 
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula winter  1970-1977  34,500 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Smew Mergellus albellus winter  1970-1977  382 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala passage  1977  25 individuals  good  A1  Endangered 
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus winter  1970-1977  260 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis winter  1970-1977  300 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis passage  1977  620 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Egretta garzetta breeding  1977  150 breeding pairs  good  B1i  Not Recognised 
Egretta garzetta passage  1977  585 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Not Recognised 
Egretta garzetta winter  1970-1977  300 individuals  good  B1i  Not Recognised 
Black-crowned Night-heron Nycticorax nycticorax winter  1970-1977  250 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides breeding  1977  150 breeding pairs  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides passage  1977  900 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Pygmy Cormorant Microcarbo pygmaeus winter  1977-1992  410-650 individuals  good  A1, B1i, B2  Least Concern 
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo passage  1977  4,200 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga winter  1977  24 individuals  good  A1, B2  Vulnerable 
Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca winter  1977  6 individuals  good  B2  Vulnerable 
White-tailed Sea-eagle Haliaeetus albicilla winter  1977  20 individuals  good  A1, B2  Least Concern 
Common Coot Fulica atra winter  1970-1977  106,400 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Sociable Lapwing Vanellus gregarius passage  1968-1969  1-8 individuals  poor  A1, A4i  Critically Endangered 
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus winter  1977-1992  2,710-5,630 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Common Redshank Tringa totanus winter  1977  700 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa winter  1970-1977  1,380 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Near Threatened 
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus passage  1977  112 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus winter  1977-1992  1,000-2,510 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus winter  1970-1977  1,750 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida breeding  1977  2,000-4,000 breeding pairs  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  1970-1977  500,000-999,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

1994 very high not assessed not assessed
unset
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Invasive and other problematic species and genes invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now whole area/population (>90%) moderate to rapid deterioration very high

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Anzali Mordab (Talab) complex Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 15,000 is identical to site 15,000  
Selkeh Wildlife Refuge 238 protected area contained by site 238  
Siahkeshim Protected Area 4,115 protected area contained by site 4,500  
Sorkhanhol Wildlife Refuge 4,477 protected area contained by site 1,214  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland)   minor
Introduced vegetation   minor
Sea   minor
Coastline   major
Grassland   minor
Shrubland   minor
Artificial - terrestrial   minor
Artificial - aquatic   minor

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 100%
hunting major
fisheries/aquaculture major

Acknowledgements Data-sheet compiled by Dr D. A. Scott, reviewed by Dept of Environment.

References Carp (1980), Ferguson (1972), Firouz et al. (1970), Fotoohi (1974), Howell (1976), IUCN (1991), Nielsen (1969), Nielsen and Speyer (1967), Ramsar Convention Bureau (1993), Scott (1976a,b,c, 1978a, in press), Summers et al. (1987).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Anzali Mordab complex. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/12/2014

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