Dukan Lake

Country/territory: Iraq

IBA criteria met: A1, A3, A4i (2014)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 47,253 ha

Nature Iraq
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2014 not assessed very high negligible
For more information about IBA monitoring, please click here

Site description (2014 baseline)
This site, which was listed as an IBA by Evans (1994) is a large reservoir of about 25,000 ha that is fed by the Lesser (Little) Zab River from the northeast and the Hizop stream from the northwest. The lake is formed by the Dukan dam, built in 1959 upstream of the town of the same name. The rivers are fed by rainfall and snowmelt, leading to peak discharge in spring and low water in summer and early fall. The lake itself is divided into two parts; a larger lake to the north and a smaller lake to the south separated by a winding gorge. The Rania Plain, where the lake is located, is the largest valley in the Lesser Zab basin. Most tributaries join the Lesser Zab upstream of Dukan, the largest being the Baneh River and Qala Chwalan. A number of smaller streams join the Lesser Zab in the Rania Plain, which is now partly inundated by Dukan Lake. More than 65 villages and six towns are located around the lake, including Rania, Chwar Qurna, and Qala Dza. Much of the land around the lake is used for agriculture and grazing is practiced extensively. There are some small mineral ponds between Rania and the lake on the north side, close to Qurago and Bemushen villages

Key biodiversity
Additional Important Bird Observations: During the surveys, 181 species were recorded. In addition to those in the table the following were observed at levels that did not meet the IBA criteria: in winter Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris (Vulnerable), Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca (Near Threatened), Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca (Vulnerable), Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus (Near Threatened) and Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax (Near Threatened); breeding European Roller Coracias garrulus (Near Threatened). The site held breeding populations of four Mediterranean and one Sahara-Sindian Desert biome-restricted species (Appendix xx). In winter the site also held up to 1500 (over 2%) of the armenicus race of Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis Other Important Fauna: Data on mammals are only for 2008-2010, with more specific information collected in 2010. Local fishermen reported observations of two globally Near Threatened species: Eurasian Otter Lutra lutra and Striped Hyaena Hyaena hyaena. One local reported the hunting of an Otter in the year 1996. There also have been reports of wolf attacks on local animal herds. Fish: Data were collected for the years 2007 and 2008 only, during which 21 species were reported. According to Coad’s (2010) criteria, the significant species observed were: Acanthobrama marmid, Alburnus mossulensis, Luciobarbus subquincunciatus, Carassius auraatus, Cyprinion macrostomum, Cyprinus carpio, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix, Heteropneustes fossilis, Gambusia holbrooki, Luciobarbus esocinus, Luciobarbus xanthopterus, Squalius cephalus, Silurus triostegus and Tor grypus. The following species are of no economic importance but their conservation status in Iraq is unknown: Alburnus caeruleus, Barbus lacerta, Capoeta damascina, Mastacembelus mastacembelus, Mystus pelusius, and Squalius lepidus. Additional Plant & Habitat Information: This site contain a good population of Anchusa italica and Gundelia tournefortii, which are important as a traditional food; as well as a good population of Linum usitatissimum, which is important as a genetic resource.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Important Bird Area factsheet: Dukan Lake. Downloaded from on 26/02/2024.