The site is located in the Zagros mountain range, where the geology is limestone and soil type is sandy clay. A small river (Chami Mishiaw) flows through the site and eventually joins with other rivers and streams to reach the Lesser Zab River south of the town of Mawat
Additional Important Bird Observations: During the survey period, 79 bird species were seen. European Roller Coracias garrulus (Near Threatened) and Iraq Babbler Turdoides altirostris (Sahara-Sindian Desert biome-restricted and restricted-range species) were found at the site but did not meet IBA criteria levels. In addition the site held breeding populations of two Irano-Turanian and two Mediterranean biome-restricted species, but these did not trigger inclusion under criterion A3.
Other Important Fauna: Little data for other fauna was collected but Nature Iraq assisted in the publishing of an account of a Syrian Brown Bear (Ursus arctos syriacus) the smallest of the Brown Bear subspecies, that had been killed by local hunters in the Penjween Area in 2011 (Garshelis & McLellan, 2011). A small population of this subspecies exists in northern Iraq but may be nationally threatened due to hunting. No significant reptiles and amphibians were observed. In 2012, near this area, the Critically Endangered Kurdistan Newt Neurergus derjugini was found (Elnaz Najafi Majd, pers. Communication 2013).
Fish: Data were collected in 2007, 2009 and a separate 2012 survey done by Dr. Jörg Freyhof from the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries. A total of 11 species were observed. Important species were: Alburnus mossulensis, Garra rufa, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix, Oxynoemacheilus sp. and Squalius cephalus. In addition, the following three species were present, whose conservation status in Iraq is unknown according to Coad (2010): Barbus lacerta, Cobitis taenia and Mastacembelus mastacembelus. Also species that were found by Dr. Freyhof and not mentioned in Coad were: Oxynoemacheilus cf. bergianus, Oxynoemacheilus frenatus, and Turcinoemacheilus kosswigi. Some of these are non-described species that are very likely to be endemic to the drainage basin.
Additional Plant & Habitat Information: This site contains a good population of Arum italica, Anchusa italica, and Gundelia tournefortii, which are important traditional foods as well as a good population of Hordeum bulbosum, which is important as a genetic resource.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Gravel mining and intensified agriculture have caused rapid degradation of this site, particularly along the river, and are considered as very high threats. Hunting and local development were rated high threats and transportation corridor threats were also considered high due to the extensive traffic related to the nearby border crossing. In addition, this area is full of landmines from the Iran-Iraq war and thus human intrusion was rated a high threat as well. This site harbors many important plants that make the area potentially important for plant diversity but extensive changes due to gravel mining have caused significant ecological disturbance, possibly including the disappearance of Sparganium americanum.
Habitat and land use
This is an open area that includes highlands and foothills not far from the town of Penjween
The habitat investigated here is mountain riverine forest.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Penjween. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 09/08/2020.