|Central coordinates||43o 57.60' East 13o 37.70' North|
|IBA criteria||A1, A4i, B1i, B2, B3|
|Altitude||1,000 - 1,400m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Ornithological information See table for key species. The grazing marshes are extremely important as the only regular wintering area for the eastern population of the globally endangered Geronticus eremita, known since 1985. Numbers have been declining since the maximum of 14 was recorded in that year, and the last record is of 2 adults and an immature from at least October to December 1992, with none found in December 1993, suggesting the imminent loss of the species from this site. These wetlands are also important as a representative fragment of a rare and threatened habitat in both Yemen and the Middle East. At least 43 species breed, including: waterbirds such as Tachybaptus ruficollis (158 birds, August), Scopus umbretta, Ciconia abdimii (16, March), Plegadis falcinellus (possibly: 'many', June 1985) and Porphyrio porphyrio (probably: 2+ heard, July); raptors such as Melierax metabates, Aquila rapax and Falco pelegrinoides; and a full complement of Afrotropical species such as Burhinus capensis, Streptopelia lugens, Treron waalia, Centropus superciliosus, Bubo africanus, Caprimulgus inornatus, Halcyon leucocephala, Merops albicollis, Tockus nasutus, Anthus cinnamomeus, Monticola rufocinereus, Muscicapa gambagae, Tchagra senegala, Nectarinia habessinica, Cinnyricinclus leucogaster, Petronia dentata, Amandava subflava and Lonchura cantans. In winter up to 2,000 ducks have been recorded, notably Anas clypeata (800, January), and other waterfowl species include Tachybaptus ruficollis (340, February) and Plegadis falcinellus (130, February). Notable passage migrants include Ciconia nigra (15, October), Plegadis falcinellus (143, October), Himantopus himantopus (190, October), Tringa ochropus (60, August), T. hypoleucos (125, August) and Motacilla citreola (5+, October). The rubbish dump and surrounding wetlands attract large numbers of post-breeding, migrant and wintering raptors to feed, drink and roost, including Milvus migrans (610, October), Circus aeruginosus (7, October), Aquila clanga (10, March), A. rapax (106, July) and A. nipalensis (150, March).
Site description Low, stony hills and rocky outcrops dissected by relatively wide, shallow wadis, in an arc 10-15 km north-north-west to east-north-east of Ta'izz, at 1,000-1,400 m.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca||passage||1993||72 individuals||poor||A1, B1i, B2||Near Threatened|
|Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca||winter||1992||10-150 individuals||medium||A1, B1i, B2||Near Threatened|
|White Stork Ciconia ciconia||passage||1993||150 individuals||poor||B2||Least Concern|
|White Stork Ciconia ciconia||winter||1993||265 individuals||poor||B1i, B2||Least Concern|
|Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita||non-breeding||1985-1992||2-14 individuals||good||A1, A4i, B1i, B2||Critically Endangered|
|Great Bittern Botaurus stellaris||passage||1993||2 individuals||poor||B2||Least Concern|
|Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis||non-breeding||1985-1992||340-350 individuals||medium||B1i||Least Concern|
|Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus||resident||1993||2 breeding pairs||poor||B2||Least Concern|
|Saker Falcon Falco cherrug||passage||1993||3 individuals||poor||B2||Endangered|
|Saker Falcon Falco cherrug||winter||1993||frequent [units unknown]||-||B2||Endangered|
|Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca||passage||1993||12 individuals||poor||A1, B2||Vulnerable|
|Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca||winter||1993||1 individuals||poor||B2||Vulnerable|
|Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus||winter||1991||117 individuals||poor||B1i||Least Concern|
|Arabian Waxbill Estrilda rufibarba||resident||1993||200 individuals||poor||B3||Least Concern|
|Olive-rumped Serin Serinus rothschildi||resident||1993||frequent [units unknown]||-||B3||Least Concern|
|Arabian Grosbeak Rhynchostruthus percivali||resident||1993||25 individuals||poor||B3||Near Threatened|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Artificial landscapes (terrestrial)||major|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
Other biodiversity Mammals: all specimens of Gazella bilkis (E) of known provenance came from this site, during the 1950s; the species is certainly extinct at this site now though (see below), and may well be globally extinct. Reptiles: Chamaeleo calyptratus (endemic).
Management considerations The close presence of the expanding city of Ta'izz is placing severe pressure on the natural resources and biodiversity of the site. Lowering of groundwater levels due to excessive water-pumping is a critical problem, which has already led to habitat destruction: boreholes in Wadi al-Malih supply nearby factories, and also possibly drinking water to the Ta'izz region. The large Typha marsh and permanent stream at Hidhran dried up between September 1984 and August 1985 (and were reported as completely destroyed by late 1989), for reasons that are unclear, but which presumably relate to water extraction higher up in the watershed. More than 30% of grazing marsh in Wadi Malih has been deep-ploughed for conversion to cultivation since 1985, even though the soil appears to be saline. Large areas of succulent shrubland on hillsides have been, and are being, cleared due to the high regional demand for fuelwood and cultivable land. Harvesting of remaining Commiphora trees for fuelwood appears to be at unsustainable levels. The sewage settlement pools were built c.1982 and are likely to disappear if further water treatment works are built in order to re-use the waste-water, e.g. for irrigation. Currently the pools may be providing some local groundwater recharge, albeit possibly polluted. There appears to be no persecution of birds, e.g. Geronticus eremita is relatively approachable and apparently untroubled by local human presence.
Conservation response The area is not protected by law and no formal measures for nature conservation are known to have been taken. Details of local, traditional land-use practises and the pattern of land-ownership are not known.
References Brooks et al. (1987), Morris (1993).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Ta'izz wadis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/05/2013
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