The site consists of the lower reaches of the Oued M’harhar and Oued Al Hachef, which join to form the 3-km-long estuarine river of the Oued Tahadart, the surrounding land and a sandy stretch of the coast between Tanger (Tangiers) and Asilah. Habitats include marshy basins, coastal mudflats, many small freshwater and brackish merjas and dayas, areas of rough pasture and some patches of cork-oak woodland.
See Box for key species. The site harbours one of the few populations of Otis tarda in Morocco—the only country in North Africa where this species occurs. Precise data on population size are not available, but 35 individuals were seen at Tahadart and 55 in Al Hachef–Charkane during surveys in 1998, and evidence of breeding was observed (courtship displays, nests). Thousands of migrant waders, gulls and waterfowl pass through Oued Tahaddart, particularly in winters with heavy rainfall when much of the site is inundated. Up to 600 Grus grus and hundreds of Phoenicopterus ruber and Platalea leucorodia have been recorded, but none of these species is known to have exceeded IBA threshold criteria. Numenius tenuirostris formerly occurred as a wintering visitor.
Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The site is currently unprotected, but is a priority 2 SIBE (No. L11). Land-ownership is mainly public, but private holdings are present around the periphery. Human activities include cultivation, pastoralism, fishing and hunting. A major conservation threat is the effects of dykes built to support roads, which have altered the drainage system of the area—for example isolating the merja of Wlad Khallouf from the rest of the estuarine system. Powerlines traversing the area and a radio-station (Voice of America) located within it, consisting of many vertical antennae and supporting wire struts, pose a threat to the population of Otis tarda: many are reported to have died through collision with wires and powerlines. Recommended conservation measures include the creation and implementation of a management plan for the area, establishment of no-hunting zones to protect Otis tarda and fixing of visible deterrents such as spheres to powerlines and cables.