Sites - Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs)
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37o 50.59' East 32o 38.45' North
A3, B2, B3
500 - 1,200m
Year of IBA assessment
Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature
Site description Desert landscape of flint/chert plains (hammada) in the east, flattish to gently rolling country covered in black basalt boulders (harrat) in the west, interspersed with siltflats and many shallow wadis. Plant cover is generally sparse, mainly limited to the shallow wadis and dominated by woody perennial herbs such as Artemisia, Anabasis and Achillea. There are no trees or large bushes. Within the reserve there is a near-permanent, spring-fed freshwater pool (200 ha) at Ghadir Burqu which is a major source of water for the livestock of bedouin living in a wide surrounding area. The main land-use is nomadic pastoralism and cultivation is very limited. An ancient Nabataean/Roman castle, Qasr Burqu, lies at the edge of the harrat.
Key Biodiversity See box for key species. A relatively rich and intact desert bird community. Other proven or probable breeding species include Buteo rufinus, Aquila chrysaetos, Alectoris chukar, Cursorius cursor, Charadrius leschenaultii, Ramphocoris clotbey, Eremophila bilopha and Oenanthe lugens (a dark morph, endemic to the basalt desert of northern Arabia). Ghadir Burqu is an important water source for large numbers of raptors during autumn migration, e.g. Circus pygargus (daily max. 85, September), and a wide variety of waders and passerines are also attracted on migration and in winter. Up to 100 Grus grus overwinter around Ghadir Burqu.
Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Canis lupus (V), and possibly Caracal caracal (rare) and Gazella subgutturosa (rare).