email a friend
printable version
Location Syria, Hims
Central coordinates 38o 18.00' East  34o 30.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, B2
Area 245,000 ha
Altitude 400 - 1,387m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Syrian Society for the Conservation of Wildlife (Affiliate)



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.

Populations of IBA trigger species

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 
Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis undulata breeding  1948-1950  1 individuals  poor  B2  Vulnerable 

Protected areas

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  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial Plantations; Urban areas  minor
Desert Temperate  major
Wetlands (inland) Freshwater springs & oases; Seasonal/intermitt salt/brackish/alkali lake/flats  minor
Artificial - aquatic Irrigated land; Water-storage areas  minor
Rocky areas   minor

Land ownership The land is state-owned since the 1960s (although traditionally used by Amur and other Bedouin tribes).

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
rangeland/pastureland 100%
tourism/recreation minor
urban/industrial/transport minor
hunting 100%
agriculture minor

Other 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.

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.

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Tadmur desert and mountains. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 17/04/2014

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife