Two more Tunisian Ramsar Sites for WWD

29/01/2013

Following on from Tunisia's latest Ramsar Site designated on 23 January to commemorate the birthday of Dr Luc Hoffmann, two more sites have also been added to the Ramsar List for World Wetlands Day, 2 February 2013. Both of them are Important Bird Areas (IBAs). According to Ms Charlotte Eyong, summarizing the accompanying RIS data, the Complexe des zones humides de Barrage Ghdir El Goulla et Barrage El Mornaguia (Al Mornaguia) (273 hectares, 36°46'42"N 010°02'16"E) comprises fresh water storage areas constructed for potable water supply and irrigation, which provide nesting grounds for several waterbirds and a wintering ground for migrating species, including the Eurasian Wigeon (Anas Penelope), the IUCN red-listed Marbled Teal (Marmaronetta angustirostris) and White-Headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala) - up to 73 individuals, representing 14 % of the species population in the West Palearctic biogeographic realm. Different fish species have been identified and the vegetation is essentially Juncus sp, Tamarix gallica and Phragmites australis.

A second new designation is the Complexe des zones humides de Sebkhet Oum Ez-Zessar et Sebkhet El Grine (9,195 ha; 33°39'N 010°31'E) along the southern coast of the Gulf of Gabes near the Isle of Djerba. Comprising permanent estuarine and shallow marine waters including intertidal marshes, the site supports several bird species including the Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia, up to 360 individuals, representing 3% of the population of the West Palearctic biogeographic realm, and the Greater Flamingo (2,200 individuals). Estuarine fish species have been identified here, including the estuarine European Toothcarp (Aphanius fasciatus) and Thicklip Grey Mullet (Chelon labrosus). Several reptiles and mammals such as the Fennec Fox (Vulpes zerda), Shaw's Jird (Meriones shawi), and the Algerian Hedgehog (Erinaceus algirus) have been identified with dense vegetation consisting mainly of halophytes. The main hydrological function is groundwater recharge. The site is remarkable for its natural state with very little human exploitation; the main human activities include traditional fishing and grazing.

Preparations for the these designations were assisted by the WWF International Freshwater Programme, WWF Mediterranean Programme, and WWF-Tunis Office.

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