Sites - Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs)
email a friend
35o 48.00' East 31o 27.65' North
A1, A3, B1iv, B2, B3
Year of IBA assessment
Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature
Site description Mountainous, rocky, sparsely vegetated desert (up to 800 m), with cliffs, gorges and deep wadis cutting through plateaus. Perennial, spring-fed streams flow down wadis to the shores of the hypersaline Dead Sea at 400 m below sea-level, and are lined with a narrow strip of Nerium scrub. Otherwise the slopes are very sparsely vegetated, with a steppe-type vegetation on plateaus. Groundwater seepage occurs rarely on rocky ground near the Dead Sea shore, especially at the hot springs of Zara, which support a luxuriant thicket of Acacia, Tamarix, Phoenix and Nerium, and a small marsh. The less-steep slopes of the higher elevations are mainly used as rangeland by pastoralists (for sheep/goats). The hot springs at Zarqa Ma'in (outside the site) are heavily used for tourism/recreation. The military have a temporary camp in the south of the reserve. Wadi Wala, upstream of Wadi Hidan and outside the reserve, is now a major water-extraction source for Amman.
Key Biodiversity See box for key species. A rich breeding bird assemblage of unusually mixed biogeographical origins. At least nine raptors breed, including Circaetus gallicus, Buteo rufinus, Hieraaetus fasciatus and Falco pelegrinoides, and other proven or probable breeding species include Alectoris chukar, Charadrius alexandrinus, Vanellus spinosus, Apus affinis, Halcyon smyrnensis, Coracias garrulus, Melanocorypha calandra, Cercomela melanura, Oenanthe lugens, Corvus rhipidurus, Petronia petronia, Rhodopechys obsoleta, R. githaginea and Emberiza striolata. There is a strong raptor migration in April, especially of Accipiter brevipes (see below), Buteo buteo (175), and Falco tinnunculus (50). Emberiza caesia occurs on passage (15, April) and Lullula arborea is a winter visitor in small numbers (max. 12). Ciconia ciconia is said to favour the shores of the Dead Sea for resting while on autumn passage.
Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Canis lupus (V), Capra nubiana (I) and Gazella gazella (V); Caracal caracal (rare) and Panthera pardus (rare) are reputed to occur. Flora: Himantoglossum affine (rare).