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Location Saudi Arabia, Jizan
Central coordinates 42o 0.00' East  16o 45.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, B1i, B1ii, B2, B3
Area 620,000 ha
Altitude 0 - 75m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Saudi Wildlife Commission (Affiliate)

Site description A Red Sea coral archipelago, 40 km offshore, with dozens of low-lying islands and islets. Some islands are bare and surrounded by coral, while others are sandy. The largest island, Farasan Kabir (c.39,500 ha), is 120 km long and up to 75 m high; inland vegetation comprises Acacia-Commiphora bushland with Ziziphus and Salvadora, as well as Euphorbia thickets and dense, 3-m-high Asparagus bushland. There are several dense stands of mangrove (mostly Avicennia but also Rhizophora). Some islands are fringed with salt-tolerant bushes. Farasan Kabir, Saqid (the only other large island: 15,600 ha) and Qummah are permanently inhabited (c.7 villages), but there are Coastguard stations and/or temporary fishing camps on other islands. There is a pearl fishery, a small amount of cultivation (dates and sorghum), and a few herds of goats.

Key Biodiversity See box for key species. The islands are important mainly for breeding seabirds and raptors, but have only been incompletely surveyed. Other breeding species include Phaethon aethereus (6-12 pairs), Pelecanus rufescens (40+ pairs), Egretta gularis, Ardea purpurea, Pandion haliaetus (40 pairs) and Sterna bergii (100 pairs). There are important concentrations of wintering waterbirds on the southern beach of Farasan Kabir, including Arenaria interpres (335).

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Gazella gazella farasani (endemic); Asellia patrizii (only site in Arabia). Reptiles: Coluber insulans (endemic); many sea-turtles (globally threatened) breed.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia breeding  1993  10 breeding pairs  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia winter  1990-1992  59-82 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Goliath Heron Ardea goliath resident  1993  1-4 breeding pairs  good  B1i, B2  Least Concern 
Brown Booby Sula leucogaster breeding  1993  150 breeding pairs  good  B1ii  Least Concern 
Sooty Falcon Falco concolor breeding  1993  32 breeding pairs  good  B2  Near Threatened 
Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus resident  1992  20-65 breeding pairs  good  B2  Endangered 
Crab-plover Dromas ardeola resident  1993  110 breeding pairs  good  B3  Least Concern 
Charadrius alexandrinus winter  1990-1992  351-500 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Not Recognised 
Lesser Sandplover Charadrius mongolus winter  1990-1992  180-310 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres winter  1990-1992  307-354 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
White-eyed Gull Larus leucophthalmus breeding  1993  300 individuals  medium  A1, A4i, B1i, B2  Near Threatened 
White-eyed Gull Larus leucophthalmus winter  1992  21 individuals  good  B2  Near Threatened 
Sooty Gull Larus hemprichii resident  1993  545 individuals  good  B3  Least Concern 
Saunders's Tern Sternula saundersi resident  1993  20 breeding pairs  good  B3  Least Concern 
Saunders's Tern Sternula saundersi winter  1990-1992  365-595 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, B3  Least Concern 
White-cheeked Tern Sterna repressa breeding  1993  8,300 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, B3  Least Concern 
Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus breeding  1993  12,150 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Brown Noddy Anous stolidus breeding  1993  10,000 breeding pairs  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2013 low not assessed low

Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities likely in short term (within 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low

Most of site (50-90%) covered (including the most critical parts for important bird species)  A comprehensive and appropriate management plan exists that aims to maintain or improve the populations of qualifying bird species  Not assessed  low 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Farasan Islands Protected Area 331,000 protected area contained by site 331,000  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Sea   major
Coastline   minor
Shrubland   major
Forest   minor
Artificial - terrestrial   minor

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture major
agriculture minor
rangeland/pastureland minor
nature conservation and research major
other minor
Notes: exploitation of nesting seabirds
hunting major
Notes: trapping of migrant birds

Acknowledgements Data-sheet compiled by P. Gaucher and J. M. Thiollay, with comments by P. Symens.

References Jennings (1988a,b), Symens (1988).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Farasan Islands. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016

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