Sawa Lake and Area

Country/territory: Iraq

IBA Criteria met: A1 (2015)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 20,058 ha

Protection status:

Nature Iraq
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2014 very high not assessed negligible
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
Sawa Lake is located at the eastern edge of the southern desert close to the Euphrates River. This lake has no inlet or outlet and is fed by groundwater that originates from the higher western desert areas. The only plant cover is scattered low desert shrub and the geology is sedimentary with sandy-clay soil.

Key biodiversity
Additional Important Bird Observations: During the surveys, 25 species were observed in Sawa Lake and the surrounding areas. In addition to the species in the table, The site supported seven Sahara-Sindian Desert biome-restricted species but this did not triggar inclusion under the A3 criterion. the site held large numbers of waterfowl, mainly ducks and Coot Fulica atra, but these did not trigger inclusion under IBA criteria. The endemic race of Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis iraquensis and the Iraqi race of Hooded Crow Corvus cornix capellanus (Mesopotamian Crow) occur, as well as the near-endemic Grey Hypocolius Hypocolius ampelinus. Locals and hunters reported the frequent occurrence of “different kinds of raptors” especially in spring and autumn, so the site may be important as a staging area. The desert area on the western side of the lake, the fresh wetland strip (represented by the western branch of Euphrates River including the orchards), and the flat arid/semi-desert areas over the southern parts of the lake might harbor considerable wildlife diversity, but were not well surveyed by the KBA team. According to local reports, mammals present include Rüppell's Fox Vulpes rueppellii, Striped Hyena Hyaena hyaena (Near Threatened), Honey Badger Mellivora capensis, Indian Grey Mongoose Herpestes edwardsii, as well as common species. No fish survey was conducted, but local fishermen reported a variety of species in the lake.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Sawa Lake and Area. Downloaded from on 29/11/2020.