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Location Saudi Arabia, Al Jawf
Central coordinates 38o 50.00' East  31o 0.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A3, B2, B3
Area 1,377,500 ha
Altitude 900 - 1,100m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Saudi Wildlife Commission (Affiliate)

Site description A huge desert area of northern Saudi Arabia, close to the border with Jordan, and 80 km north-west of Sakakah. Undulating, black, basalt boulder-fields with numerous volcanic cones and frequent low hills, interspersed with siltflats and some sabkhah. Wadis are generally shallow. Rainfall is seasonal (every winter) but varies greatly in amount between years. There is rarely any surface water except for a permanent reservoir at Dawmat al-Jandl (see site 002) near the southern edge of the reserve. Except for a very few stunted palms the vegetation is devoid of trees, and is sparse except after good winter/spring rains, although drainage features contain a reasonable cover of small shrubs (Artemisia, Haloxylon, Zilla).

Key Biodiversity See box for key species. The site holds the most diverse breeding community of larks in the Middle East: Eremalauda dunni, Ammomanes cincturus, A. deserti, Alaemon alaudipes, Ramphocoris clotbey, Calandrella rufescens, Galerida cristata and Eremophila bilopha are regular, and Melanocorypha bimaculata and Calandrella brachydactyla may breed in some years after good rains. Other breeding species include Aquila chrysaetos, Buteo rufinus, Falco tinnunculus, F. pelegrinoides (probably), Alectoris chukar (now possibly extinct), Cursorius cursor, Bubo ascalaphus and Athene noctua. A concentration of 10,000-15,000 sandgrouse (70% Pterocles orientalis, 30% P. alchata) has been recorded at the eastern edge of the reserve in winter, and other wintering species include Falco columbarius (relatively common) and Sylvia conspicillata (regular). The site was one of the last places that Struthio camelus occurred in Saudi Arabia before being hunted to extinction; the last documented record from the area was in January 1930.

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Canis lupus (V), Vulpes rueppelli (K), Felis margarita (K), Gazella subgutturosa (rare) and possibly G. gazella (V).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Sand Partridge Ammoperdix heyi resident  1993  common  A3, B3  Least Concern 
Saker Falcon Falco cherrug passage  1993  present  B2  Endangered 
Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca winter  1993  uncommon  B2  Vulnerable 
Chlamydotis undulata resident  1993  50 nests  good  A1, B2  Not Recognised 
Chlamydotis undulata winter  1993  570 individuals  good  A1  Not Recognised 
Cursorius cursor breeding  1993  present  A3  Not Recognised 
Pharaoh Eagle-owl Bubo ascalaphus resident  1993  present  A3  Least Concern 
Hume's Owl Strix butleri resident  1993  uncommon  A3, B3  Least Concern 
Greater Hoopoe-lark Alaemon alaudipes resident  1993  present  A3  Least Concern 
Thick-billed Lark Rhamphocoris clotbey resident  1993  present  A3  Least Concern 
Bar-tailed Lark Ammomanes cinctura resident  1993  present  A3  Least Concern 
Desert Lark Ammomanes deserti resident  1993  present  A3  Least Concern 
Dunn's Lark Eremalauda dunni resident  1993  present  A3  Least Concern 
Temminck's Lark Eremophila bilopha resident  1993  present  A3  Least Concern 
Finsch's Wheatear Oenanthe finschii winter  1993  common  B3  Least Concern 
Pale Rock Sparrow Petronia brachydactyla breeding  1993  uncommon  B3  Least Concern 
Pale Rock Sparrow Petronia brachydactyla passage  1993  frequent  B3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2013 low not assessed medium

No known threats no known threats happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  A comprehensive and appropriate management plan exists that aims to maintain or improve the populations of qualifying bird species  Not assessed  medium 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Harrat al-Harrah Protected Area 1,377,500 is identical to site 1,377,500  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Desert   100%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 100%
rangeland/pastureland major

Acknowledgements Data-sheet compiled by S. Newton, with comments by P. Symens.

References Goriup (1989), Goriup et al. (1992), Green (1984), Jennings (1988), Symens (1988).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Harrat al-Harrah. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016

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