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Location Iran, Islamic Republic of, Hormozgan
Central coordinates 55o 40.00' East  26o 50.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2, B3
Area 100,000 ha
Altitude 0 - 50m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

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.

Key Biodiversity 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.

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
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia winter  1970-1977  442 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Egretta gularis resident  1977  50 breeding pairs  good  B1i  Not Recognised 
Egretta gularis winter  1970-1977  458 individuals  good  B1i  Not Recognised 
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 White Egret Ardea alba winter  1970-1977  445 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  Near Threatened 
Haematopus ostralegus winter  1970-1977  331 individuals  good  B1i  Not Recognised 
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 
Common Redshank Tringa totanus winter  1970-1977  3,000 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica winter  1970-1977  2,410 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Near Threatened 
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata winter  1970-1977  5,850 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Near Threatened 
Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus winter  1970-1977  1,000 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Sterna nilotica winter  1970-1977  355 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Not Recognised 
Larus cachinnans winter  1977  3,000 individuals  good  B1i  Not Recognised 
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus winter  1970-1977  20,000 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  1977  20,000 individuals  poor  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

1994 medium not assessed not assessed
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Biological resource use logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Pollution industrial & military effluents - oil spills happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Residential and commercial development tourism and recreation areas likely in long term (beyond 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low

Protected areas

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)
Desert   minor
Sea   minor
Coastline   major
Forest   minor

Land use

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

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

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 (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Khouran Straits. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016

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