Mareb escarpment

Year of compilation: 2001

Site description
This site lies at the southern end of the Central Plateau on the edge of the escarpment, where it falls down steeply to the valley of the Mareb river. In places there are sheer cliffs, dropping as much as 600 m to the river. The site is about 40 km north-west of Senafe (ER013). Bird records from the general area of ‘Mareb escarpment’ and Mai Aini, show that the area merits definition as an IBA. Further survey work will be needed to define the boundaries of a site in this general area. The cliffs and hills are covered in dry upland scrub and grassland (Olea, Euphorbia, Dodonaea, Opuntia, Barleria and sparse Acacia spp., together with Rumex nervosus, Rosa abyssinica, Ocimum menthaefolium and Aloe abyssinica). On flatter ground adjoining the Mareb, at c.1,500 m and above, are doum palm, Hyphaene thebaica, other trees, rank undergrowth and some areas of cultivation and grassland.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Table 2 for key species. There are old records (from the 1950s) of Emberiza cineracea occurring ‘on the Mareb’, but no information is given about altitude or location. This is one of only two IBAs in which the Sudan–Guinea Savanna biome species Myrmecocichla albifrons occurs. It is the only IBA in Eritrea within which the Somali–Masai biome species Cercomela scotocerca is recorded and the area was said to be the ‘main haunt, with flocks of 20 and more’ for another Somali–Masai species, Tockus hemprichii, in the 1950s. In addition, there are records for three Sahel biome species and four Afrotropical Highlands biome species; see Table 2.

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
This site is similar to Senafe (ER013), in that it is close to the Ethiopian border and is likely to have been severely affected by the recent years of war. Most of the bird information dates from the 1940s, 1950s and earlier and the effects of the subsequent years of war on biodiversity in the area are unknown.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mareb escarpment. Downloaded from on 20/08/2019.