|Central coordinates||38o 18.00' East 34o 30.00' North|
|IBA criteria||A1, A4i, B2|
|Altitude||400 - 1,387m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2007|
Summary Rocky desert with scattered dwarf shrubs and a few artificial reservoirs, and cut by several sheer limestone cliffs.
Site description An area of steppe-desert around Tadmur in the centre of Syria, 150 km east of Homs, in a closed basin (c.70 × 35 km), surrounded by limestone and marl hills. There is an isolated oasis to the south of the town with extensive date-palm gardens, and Sabkhat Muh, a seasonally flooded salt-lake up to c.20 km long, lies to the south of the oasis. There are some scattered Tamarix trees around its fringe, and the steppe-desert surrounds are sparsely vegetated with perennial tussock-grass, Chenopodiaceae and Artemisia. The T-3 pumping station (34°31'N 38°45'E), 40 km east of Tadmur on the Iraq–Lebanon oil pipeline, is a small, man-made oasis with a plantation of mature Eucalyptus (c.2 ha), a garden and a sewage pond (c.0.5 ha). The main land-use is grazing livestock. The area is famous for its Roman ruins.
Key Biodiversity This is the last remaining breeding site for the eastern population of the Northern Bald Ibis. A representative assemblage of characteristic desert species occurs, with added interest due to the isolated oasis, surrounding hills and seasonal wetland. See box for key species. Other probable or confirmed breeding species include Buteo rufinus, Aquila chrysaetos, Cursorius cursor, Charadrius leschenaultii, Pterocles alchata, Bubo bubo, Athene noctua, Ammomanes deserti, Alaemon alaudipes, Eremophila bilopha, Oenanthe deserti, O. lugens, Pycnonotus leucotis (c.450 km west of its main range in Iraq) and Corvus corax. The oasis at Tadmur provides the only substantial shelter for migrant birds for 150 km to the north and west and for much further to south and east, and a very wide variety of species are attracted; the oasis is especially important for migrating raptors, e.g. Pernis apivorus, Buteo buteo (roost of 1,500, April), Milvus migrans (roost of 87, April), Circus macrourus and C. pygargus. Wintering species at the salt-lake include Phoenicopterus ruber (90, November) and Grus grus.
Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Canis lupus (V; probably occurs), Caracal caracal (rare) and Gazella subgutturosa (rare). A few individuals of Sand Gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa marica) are still striving to survive within a rugged section of the protected area. This is most likely one of the two last sites in Syria where this animal, iconic for the Arabic culture, can still be found. In addition of being almost completely extinct in the region, Sand Gazelle is listed as a Vulnerable species globally.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita||breeding||2002-2007||1-3 breeding pairs||good||A1, A4i||Critically Endangered|
|Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus||resident||1976||21 individuals||poor||B2||Least Concern|
|Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni||breeding||1980||1 breeding pairs||unknown||A1||Least Concern|
|Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus||winter||1981||1 individuals||poor||B2||Near Threatened|
|Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus||breeding||1991||4 individuals||poor||B2||Endangered|
|Chlamydotis undulata||breeding||1948-1950||1 individuals||poor||B2||Not Recognised|
|2014||very high||not assessed||negligible|
|Energy production and mining||oil and gas drilling||happening now||whole area/population (>90%)||very rapid to severe deterioration||very high|
|Transportation and service corridors||roads and railroads||happening now||whole area/population (>90%)||very rapid to severe deterioration||very high|
|Some of site covered (10-49%)||No management planning has taken place||Very little or no conservation action taking place||negligible|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Ibis||Protected Area||23,000||protected area contained by site||23,000|
|Jabal Abou Rojmen||Designation Not Known||60,000||protected area contained by site||60,000|
|Talila||Protected Area||30,000||protected area contained by site||30,000|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Artificial - terrestrial||Plantations; Urban areas||minor|
|Wetlands (inland)||Freshwater springs & oases; Seasonal/intermitt salt/brackish/alkali lake/flats||minor|
|Artificial - aquatic||Irrigated land; Water-storage areas||minor|
Land ownership The land is state-owned since the 1960s (although traditionally used by Amur and other Bedouin tribes).
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
Protection status The Ibis Protected Area was designated in 2004 by the Minister of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform (MAAR), with an area of c. 230 km2.
References Jimenez Armesto, M.J., Boehm, C. & Bowden, C. (Compilers). 2006. International Single Species Action Plan for the Conservation of the Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita. AEWA Technical Series No. 10. Bonn, Germany.Serra G., Scheisch Abdallah M., al Qaim G., Kanani A. In prepr. Feeding ecology and behaviour of last surviving middle eastern N. Bald Ibises breeding in the Syrian steppe.Serra G. 2002. Proposal for an action plan to protect wildlife of Palmyrean desertic steppe. FAO report project GCP/SYR/009/ITA prepared upon request of Syrian Ministry of Environment, available at FAO Representation in Damascus Syria.Serra, G., Abdallah, M., Al Quaim, G., Fayed, T., Assaed, A. & Williamson, D. 2003. Discovery of a relict breeding colony of Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita in Syria: still in time to save the eastern population? Oryx 38: 1-7.Serra G., Abdallah M., Assaed A., Al Qaim G., Abdallah A. 2005. A long-term bird survey of central Syrian desert (2000-2003). Part 1. Sandgrouse, 27(1): 9-23. Part 2. Sandgrouse, 27(2): 104-125.Serra G. and L. Peske. 2006 a. Coordinating protection efforts of breeding N. Bald Ibises Geronticus eremita in Palmyra (Syria) and trapping / satellite tagging 3 individuals. Internal Report. BirdLife International / Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.Serra G. and L. Peske. 2006 b. N. Bald Ibis conservation efforts in Syria 2002-2006: results and lessons learned. In N. Bald Ibis conservation and reintroduction workshop. Eds. C. Boehm, Bowden CGR, Jordan M. and C. King. Second International Advisory Group on N. Bald Ibis (IAGNBI) meeting, Vejer (Andalusia) 2006.
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Tadmur desert and mountains. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 21/12/2014
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