Science, Technology & Environment

Ghardaïa: over 6,200 migratory birds observed in Lake Sebkhat El-Maleh

APS - 02 February 2021

GHARDAIA - At least 6,258 migratory birds have been counted by ornithologists in the classified wetland of Lake Sebkhat El-Maleh, south of El-Menea (275 km south of Ghardaïa, 600 km south of Algiers), the Province's Forest Conservation directorate told APS on Tuesday.

This winter census of avifauna, using the El-Menea wetland as "a stopover and nesting area" on the migratory route between Europe and Africa, was conducted under the international census of migratory birds taking place between January 15 and 31 of 2021, said the head of the Flora and Fauna Protection Office Abdelwahab Chedad.

The census has been carried by the National Network of Algerian Bird Watchers (R.N.O.O.A) of the South-East II region, in accordance with the Wetlands protocol.

The count allowed to identify around thirty species of water avifauna, including species cited in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN) (marbled teal, common scaup), he said.

These avifauna subjects are spread in the "Sebkhat El-Maleh" site, classified as natural wetland by the Ramsar convention in 2004.

The site which spans 18,947 hectares, includes 1,600 hectares of water and a plant periphery, said the same official.

The January census (6,258 migratory birds) revealed a significant decrease in individuals and species, compared to the previous year 2020 with 8,360 birds.

The decrease in migratory avifauna subjects in this wetland considered as a melting pot for exceptional biodiversity is "closely" linked to the widespread of urbanization, the adjacent agricultural vegetation and especially the scarcity of rain and drought experienced this year in the region of El-Menea, said the head of the Flora and Fauna Protection Office.

"This water area is of great importance and constitutes a barometer for local biodiversity," said Chedad.

This site has become an essential stopover for thousands of migratory birds that take refuge there to escape the northern hemisphere harsh winter, take advantage of the mild climate in El-Menea to renew their plumage before the breeding season.