This is a large site located 70 km east of Tan Tan. It comprises the rocky mountains of Jbel Bani, Jbel Rich, Jbel Tazzout and Jbel Ouarkziz, separated from each other by silty valleys including, between Jbel Rich and Jbel Tazzout, the bed of the Oued Drâa. The climate of the north-western 10% of the site is subject to an oceanic influence and is consequently wetter and more densely vegetated with Argania spinosa and Euphorbia echinus, while the larger south-eastern sector is drier and supports a Saharan-type vegetation with bushes of Limoniastrum ifniense and Nitraria retusa, together with the most extensive and well-developed stands of Acacia raddiana in the country. The many permanent brackish gueltas along the valleys are fringed with Tamarix spp., and there are several freshwater springs. Annual precipitation is around 40 mm.
See Box and Table 2 for key species. In the mid-1990s a limited survey investigating a small part of the site recorded 20 Marmaronetta angustirostris and 100 Tadorna ferruginea, and it can therefore be assumed that total numbers of both species exceed IBA thresholds. A total of 35 species is known to breed. Argania/Euphorbia woodland in the north-west sector supports a Mediterranean avifauna, while the south-western portion of the site contains a representative sample of the Saharan species.
Non-bird biodiversity: The mammals Gazella dorcas (LR/nt), Gazella cuvieri (EN), Ammotragus lervia (VU) and Acinonyx jubatus hecki (EN) are all present (tracks of the latter seen in 1994). Three endemic reptiles, Tarentola boehmi, Quedenfeldtia moerens and Acanthodactylus busacki, occur, as does the endemic amphibian Bufo brongersmai.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The site is currently unprotected, but was classed as a priority 1 SIBE (No. 77) because of the beauty of the landscape and outstanding large-mammal and reptile communities: indeed, reintroduction programmes for Oryx dammah (CR) and Gazella dama (EN) have been proposed. However, since 1995 the site has been considered a hunting reserve for Middle Eastern Arab visitors. Human activities include nomadic pastoralism (goats, sheep and camels) and irrigated cultivation along the valleys (date-palms, barley, etc.). Threats include hunting of gazelle from vehicles by urban visitors; hunting by visiting Arab falconers, who in 1995 killed hundreds of Chlamydotis undulata; and poisoning campaigns against predators which have killed non-target scavengers such as vultures. The creation of a National Park and implementation of a sound management plan are urgently required.
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Msseyed. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 25/03/2023.