|Location||Iran, Islamic Republic of, Hormozgan|
|Central coordinates||55o 40.00' East 26o 50.00' North|
|IBA criteria||A1, A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2, B3|
|Altitude||0 - 50m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Ornithological information See box for key species. The mangrove supports substantial breeding populations of egrets and herons as well as some shorebirds (notably Dromas ardeola and Burhinus recurvirostris) and terns. Ardea goliath has its only confirmed breeding site in Iran here, and there is a small colony of Casmerodius albus modestus (South Asian race), which probably reaches its western limit in this region. The site holds Iran's largest colony of Ardeola grayii (at least 30 pairs), and Butorides striatus may breed. The extensive mudflats are an extremely important staging and wintering area for shorebirds and gulls, along with smaller numbers of Pelecanus crispus, Platalea leucorodia, Phoenicopterus ruber and many other species. The adjacent desertic plains with scattered thorn trees and date gardens support a typical Baluchi avifauna with several primarily Indo-Malayan species. At least 93 species have been recorded in the reserve.
Site description The Khouran Straits lie in the southern Persian Gulf between the region of the Mehran and Kul/Rasul (Gol) deltas and the island of Gheshm (110 km from east to west and up to 20 km across). Within the straits, there are c.100,000 ha of low-lying islands, mangrove, mudflats and creeks which constitute much the largest of the mangrove/mudflat ecosystems in Iran. The mangrove forests reach their greatest development around a group of low-lying muddy islands in a large bay on the north shore of Gheshm Island, but there are also significant stands along the outer margins of the Mehran delta. In these areas and in the Kul/Rasul delta to the east, there are vast intertidal mudflats. Elsewhere along the Gheshm and mainland coasts, the shoreline consists of wide sandy beaches and sandflats. The mangrove forests are monospecific stands of Avicennia marina, here at the north-west limit of its distribution. Red and brown algae (Rhodophyceae, Phaeophyceae) are the other dominant vegetation in the shallow coastal waters. The adjacent coastal plains are mainly barren sandflats with scattered Acacia, Prosopis and other thorn trees. A few small settlements are scattered along the shore, with some small date gardens. Fishing (commercial and subsistence) is an important activity. Land ownership is public.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia||winter||1970-1977||442 individuals||good||B1i||Least Concern|
|Grey Heron Ardea cinerea||winter||1970-1977||400 individuals||good||B1i||Least Concern|
|Goliath Heron Ardea goliath||resident||1976-1977||7 individuals||good||A4i, B1i, B2||Least Concern|
|Great Egret Casmerodius albus||winter||1970-1977||445 individuals||good||B1i||Least Concern|
|Western Reef-egret Egretta gularis||resident||1977||50 breeding pairs||good||B1i||Least Concern|
|Western Reef-egret Egretta gularis||winter||1970-1977||458 individuals||good||B1i||Least Concern|
|Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus||winter||1970-1977||100-210 individuals||good||A1, A4i, B1i, B2||Vulnerable|
|Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus||breeding||1977||5 breeding pairs||good||B2||Endangered|
|Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus||winter||1977||35 individuals||good||B2||Endangered|
|Great Thick-knee Esacus recurvirostris||resident||1977||4 breeding pairs||good||B3||Least Concern|
|Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus||winter||1970-1977||331 individuals||good||B1i||Least Concern|
|Crab Plover Dromas ardeola||resident||1977||20 breeding pairs||good||B3||Least Concern|
|Crab Plover Dromas ardeola||winter||1970-1977||940 individuals||good||A4i, B1i, B3||Least Concern|
|Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica||winter||1970-1977||2,410 individuals||good||A4i, B1i||Least Concern|
|Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata||winter||1970-1977||5,850 individuals||good||A4i, B1i||Near Threatened|
|Common Redshank Tringa totanus||winter||1970-1977||3,000 individuals||good||B1i||Least Concern|
|Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus||winter||1970-1977||1,000 individuals||good||B1i||Least Concern|
|Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans||winter||1977||3,000 individuals||good||B1i||Least Concern|
|Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus||winter||1970-1977||20,000 individuals||good||A4i, B1i||Least Concern|
|Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica||winter||1970-1977||355 individuals||good||A4i, B1i||Least Concern|
|A4iii Species group - waterbirds||winter||1977||20,000 individuals||poor||A4iii|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Hara||Protected Area||86,581||protected area contained by site||85,686|
|Hara||UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve||85,686||protected area contained by site||85,686|
|Khuran Straits||Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar)||100,000||is identical to site||100,000|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||100%|
Other biodiversity None known to BirdLife International.
Management considerations The main area of mangrove and mudflat (82,360 ha) was designated a Protected Region in 1972. This was later increased to 85,686 ha and upgraded to National Park (Hara National Park), but downgraded to Protected Area in the 1980s. The entire area of mangrove, mudflats and creeks in the Khouran Straits (100,000 ha) was designated a Ramsar Site in 1975, and the reserve (85,686 ha) was designated a Biosphere Reserve in 1976. Some illegal cutting of mangrove for fuel and grazing by domestic livestock has been reported. The easternmost part of the site is not included within any legally protected area, and has been subject to logging of mangrove for charcoal production. A part of the area is at risk from the proposed development of a free port and tourist facilities on Gheshm. There may be some pollution from the nearby port of Bandar Abbas, and oil pollution is possible.
References Argyle (1975, 1976c, 1977b), Carp (1980), Gallagher et al. (1984), Ramsar Convention Bureau (1993), Scott (1975b, 1976a,c, 1978a, in press), Summers et al. (1987).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Khouran Straits. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/05/2013
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