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Location Israel
Central coordinates 34o 48.00' East  30o 50.00' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iv, B1i, B1iv, B2, B3
Area 25,000 ha
Altitude 300 - 600m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel

Site description A region of desert near Sede Boqer, 50 km south of Be'er Sheva, 300-600 m above sea-level. It is a mountainous area of sedimentary rock capped with fossil loess and contains some perennial streams and waterholes. The plateau, north of Wadi Zin, is partly settled by Kibbutz Sede-Boqer (mainly agriculture and livestock) and the Sede-Boqer educational campus. The climate is arid. Rainfall occurs in winter, averaging 85 mm, with large annual variation in amount, timing and spatial distribution. The major pulse of plant growth occurs about mid-January to mid-April. A few oases with springs and large rock pools hold water all year. Most of the vegetation on the highest plateau (over 470 m) is of Irano-Turanian origin, dominated mainly by Artemisia. The lowest part of the Zin valley (300 m) is vegetated mainly with Saharo-Arabian forms, characterized by Anabasis, with sparse and patchy vegetation, being mainly limited to seasonal stream beds. Military activity is considerable and there is a little cultivation.

Key Biodiversity An unusually large number of raptors and owls breeds on the cliffs of Wadi Zin: Neophron percnopterus, Gyps fulvus, Circaetus gallicus, Buteo rufinus, Aquila chrysaetos, Falco tinnunculus, F. concolor, F. biarmicus, F. pelegrinoides, Tyto alba, Bubo ascalaphus, Athene noctua, Strix butleri, and Asio otus. At least 230 bird species have been recorded in the area, including at least 54 confirmed or presumed to breed, and at least 170 migrants. The area lies on a major migratory flyway and there is a passage of over 3,000 raptors in spring.

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Canis lupus (V), Caracal caracal (rare), Panthera pardus (rare), Capra nubiana (I), Gazella gazella (V) and G. dorcas (V). Reptiles: Varanus griseus (rare) and Uromastyx aegyptius (rare). Flora: Hammada negevensis (endemic) and Origanum dayi.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Sand Partridge Ammoperdix heyi resident  1991  50 breeding pairs  poor  B3  Least Concern 
Black Stork Ciconia nigra passage  1991  200 individuals  poor  B1i  Least Concern 
White Stork Ciconia ciconia passage  1991  8,200-33,400 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, B2  Least Concern 
Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus resident  1991  3-7 breeding pairs  good  B2  Least Concern 
Sooty Falcon Falco concolor breeding  1991  20 breeding pairs  good  B2  Near Threatened 
Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus resident  1991  3 breeding pairs  good  B2  Least Concern 
Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus breeding  1991  24 breeding pairs  good  B2  Endangered 
Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus winter  1991  60-100 individuals  good  B2  Least Concern 
Chlamydotis undulata resident  1991  3 breeding pairs  medium  B2  Not Recognised 
Common Crane Grus grus passage  1991  250-400 individuals  unknown  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Pallid Scops-owl Otus brucei winter  1991  1-5 individuals  poor  B3  Least Concern 
Hume's Owl Strix butleri resident  1991  2-5 breeding pairs  medium  B3  Least Concern 
Arabian Babbler Turdoides squamiceps resident  1991  7 breeding pairs  good  B3  Least Concern 
Hooded Wheatear Oenanthe monacha winter  1991  4 individuals  poor  B3  Least Concern 
Pale Rosefinch Carpodacus synoicus resident  1991  10 breeding pairs  medium  B2  Least Concern 
A4iv Species group - soaring birds/cranes passage  1991  36,000 individuals  good  A4iv, B1iv   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Har Ha Negev Nature Reserve 102,349 unknown 0  
Helmoniyyot Rekhes Boqer Nature Reserve 50 protected area contained by site 50  
Mazuq HaZinnim Nature Reserve 61,956 protected area overlaps with site 12,970  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Desert   98%
Wetlands (inland) Freshwater springs & oases  minor
Artificial - terrestrial Arable land; Plantations  2%
Rocky areas   minor

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
military major
rangeland/pastureland minor
agriculture minor
nature conservation and research 54%
tourism/recreation major

Acknowledgements Data-sheet compiled by R. Frumkin.

References Frumkin (1986), Frumkin (1993), Frumkin and Man (1984), Shirihai and Bahat (1993), Yosef (1991).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Cliffs of Zin and the Negev highlands. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016

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