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Location Israel
Central coordinates 35o 0.00' East  29o 40.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A3, A4i, A4iv, B1i, B1iv, B2, B3
Area 60,000 ha
Altitude 0 - 600m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel



Site description The tourist resort of Elat lies in the Rift Valley at the head of the Gulf of Elat (Gulf of Aqaba) flanked by mountains, with the Moon Valley and the plateau of the Negev to the west and the Arava valley running off to the north-north-west. The site comprises the region of the Arava valley from Elat to the area of Yotvata c.40 km to the north, and includes the western (Israeli) half of the valley floor and the ridge of the 'Elat Mountains'. The climate is arid (less than 50 mm rainfall per year), and rocky areas and gravel plains may be almost without vegetation, but sandy areas, especially wadis, support large bushes and, after rain, grasses and annual herbs. Large wadis and their alluvial fans support open woodland of Acacia tortilis and A. raddiana, notably just south of Yotvata, and here a few presumably native Phoenix dactylifera also grow where water is close to the surface. There is a tiny relict group of Hyphaene thebaica at En Evrona. Other habitats include beaches, agricultural fields, saltpans, sewage ponds and Phragmites; a saltmarsh with large Suaeda bushes has now almost disappeared.

Key Biodiversity Elat is a key site for migration through the Middle East, and very large numbers of all types of bird pass through the area in both spring and autumn. Over 420 species have been recorded. Of prime importance are raptors: 1.2 million have been counted in a single spring season and 26,000 in autumn, and the flyway is especially concentrated for Pernis apivorus (see box), Milvus migrans (max. seasonal total 31,774), Accipiter brevipes (see box), Buteo buteo vulpinus (max. seasonal total 465,827) and Aquila nipalensis (max. seasonal total 75,053). Migrant Chlidonias leucopterus also occur in especially high numbers. Numbers of migrating Pelecanus onocrotalus and Ciconia nigra are highest in spring, and seasonal totals from the Moon Valley are given (see box). Other breeding species include Aquila verreauxii (not proven: records of 1-2 birds), Falco pelegrinoides (1-2 pairs), Pterocles lichtensteinii and Eremalauda dunni (0-20 pairs, last bred 1989).

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Pipistrellus bodenheimeri (rare endemic), Barbastella leucomelas (rare), Canis lupus (V), Vulpes cana (K), Vulpes zerda (K), Caracal caracal (rare), Felis margarita (rare), Capra nubiana (I), Gazella gazella (V) and G. dorcas (V). Reptiles: Coluber sinai (endemic). Flora: Paracaryum intermedium, Gomphocarpus sinaicus, Ephedra alata, Centaurea scoparia.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Sand Partridge Ammoperdix heyi resident  1991  present  A3, B3  Least Concern 
Garganey Spatula querquedula passage  1991  10,000 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Black Stork Ciconia nigra passage  1991  3,771 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
White Stork Ciconia ciconia passage  1991  11,000 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea passage  1991  1,000 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus passage  1991  5,850 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus resident  1991  1 breeding pairs  B2  Least Concern 
Sooty Falcon Falco concolor breeding  1991  5-10 breeding pairs  good  A3, B2  Near Threatened 
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni passage  1977-1988  22 individuals  good  A1, B2  Least Concern 
Levant Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes passage  1977-1988  16,280-49,836 individuals  good  B2  Least Concern 
Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca passage  1977-1988  64-90 individuals  good  A1, B2  Vulnerable 
Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca winter  1991  1-2 individuals  good  B2  Vulnerable 
Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus passage  1977-1988  428-802 individuals  good  B2  Endangered 
European Honey-buzzard Pernis apivorus passage  1977-1988  363,200-851,598 individuals  good  B2  Least Concern 
Common Crane Grus grus passage  1991  500 individuals  unknown  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Himantopus himantopus passage  1991  300 individuals  good  B1i  Not Recognised 
Slender-billed Curlew Numenius tenuirostris passage  1977  1 individuals  good  A1, A4i  Critically Endangered 
Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis passage  1991  500 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Black-winged Pratincole Glareola nordmanni passage  1991  5-80 individuals  good  A1, B2  Near Threatened 
White-eyed Gull Larus leucophthalmus winter  1991  1-80 individuals  good  A1,B2  Near Threatened 
White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus passage  1991  50,000 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse Pterocles lichtensteinii resident  1993  present  A3  Least Concern 
Pallid Scops-owl Otus brucei winter  1991  3 individuals  good  B3  Least Concern 
Hume's Owl Strix butleri resident  1991  4-10 breeding pairs  good  A3, B3  Least Concern 
Dunn's Lark Eremalauda dunni resident  1993  present  A3  Least Concern 
Arabian Babbler Turdoides squamiceps resident  1991  present  A3, B3  Least Concern 
Tristram's Starling Onychognathus tristramii resident  1991  10-50 breeding pairs  good  B3  Least Concern 
Tristram's Starling Onychognathus tristramii winter  1991  5,000 individuals  good  B3  Least Concern 
Hooded Wheatear Oenanthe monacha resident  1991  present  A3, B3  Least Concern 
Dead Sea Sparrow Passer moabiticus passage  1991  5,000 individuals  B3  Least Concern 
Dead Sea Sparrow Passer moabiticus winter  1991  100 individuals  B3  Least Concern 
Pale Rosefinch Carpodacus synoicus resident  1991  2-4 breeding pairs  good  B2  Least Concern 
Pale Rosefinch Carpodacus synoicus winter  1991  20-50 individuals  good  B2  Least Concern 
Cinereous Bunting Emberiza cineracea passage  1991  15 individuals  unknown  A1, B2  Near Threatened 
A4iv Species group - soaring birds/cranes passage  1977-1988  1,200,000 individuals  good  A4iv, B1iv   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Biqat Timna Nature Reserve 2,610 protected area contained by site 2,610  
Ha-Yam Ha-Deromi Be-Elat Nature Reserve 35 protected area contained by site 35  
Hof HaAlmogim BeElat Nature Reserve 9 protected area contained by site 9  
Maáiv Elat Nature Reserve 39,123 protected area contained by site 39,123  
Yotvata Nature Reserve 3,064 protected area contained by site 3,064  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   minor
Desert   major
Sea   minor
Coastline   minor
Artificial - aquatic   minor
Rocky areas   minor
Shrubland   minor
Savanna   minor

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture minor
Notes: Agric/cultiv
fisheries/aquaculture minor
Notes: Fisheries/aquaculture
nature conservation and research 72%
Notes: Wildlife conservation/research
tourism/recreation major
Notes: Tourism/Recreation
urban/industrial/transport minor
Notes: Urban/industrial/utility

Acknowledgements Data-sheet compiled by S. Blitzblau, reviewed by R. Frumkin.

References Frumkin and Man (1984), Shirihai (1991), Shirihai and Christie (1992), Shirihai et al. (1987).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Southern Arava valley and Elat mountains. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/11/2014

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