Jbel el Haouaria

Year of compilation: 2001

Site description
Djebel el Haouaria is situated on the northern point of the Cap Bon peninsula in the extreme north-east of the country. The low peak (393 m) of El Haouaria is the northernmost mountain at the end of the Dorsale range. It supports a Mediterranean maquis vegetation of Olea europaea, Pistacia lentiscus, Myrtus communis and Cistus monspeliensis.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Table 2 for key species. Birds which have wintered in Africa and are moving back to breeding grounds in Europe concentrate here for the short sea-crossing to Sicily, particularly large, soaring birds which avoid long sea-crossings. The site is comparable in importance to Gibraltar and the Bosphorus. Annually between March–May some 20,000–40,000 raptors of 24 species, including Circus macrourus and Falco naumanni overfly the site, as do significant numbers of Ciconia ciconia, C. nigra, Grus grus, Asio otus, Asio flammeus, Otus scops, Coturnix coturnix and Oriolus oriolus. Raptors breeding on the cliffs include Buteo rufinus cirtensis, Falco peregrinus, F. biarmicus and F. tinnunculus.

Non-bird biodiversity: Djebel el Haouaria hosts one of the most important colonies of bats in Tunisia, including Rhinolophus ferrum-equinum (LR/cd).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The site is protected as a Hunting Reserve and the cave used by the bats has been declared a Natural Reserve. There was a long tradition of bird-catching by local people at El Haouaria; large birds such as raptors were caught for food, using clap-nets on the side of the mountain, while Accipiter nisus were trapped and trained to catch migratory Coturnix coturnix; passerines were caught to feed the captive Accipter nisus. In the 1970s, the catching of raptors was stopped, largely as a result of the efforts of the A.A.O., falconry with A. nisus was brought under strict control, and a falconry festival instituted in May each year.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Jbel el Haouaria. Downloaded from on 20/04/2021.