Bakhma, Dukan and Darbandikhan dams

Year of compilation: 1994

Site description
Dukan and Darbandikhan are two dammed lakes, each c.30 km long, lying in the foothills of Kurdistan in north-east Iraq. Dukan (36°10'N 44°55'E, c.25,000 ha) is in the Lesser Zab river valley, and Darbandikhan (35°10'N 45°45'E, c.7,500 ha) is in the Diyala river valley. Contrary to most maps, construction of the Bakhma dam (36°45'N 44°15'E) in the Great Zab river valley has not been completed, having presumably been abandoned in 1991, and there is as yet no lake there. The general aspect is of deep valleys eroded into limestone country, with steep and craggy slopes. There are patches of semi-natural parkland of small oak Quercus and juniper Juniperus trees on slopes, particularly extensive and undisturbed around Bakhma. There is limited cultivation of tobacco, rice, wheat and vines on the flood-plains in the valleys; the main land-use is as rangeland for goats and sheep. Dukan and Darbandikhan dams are presumably used to generate hydroelectric power.

Key biodiversity
The lakes are likely to be important for wintering waterfowl, but no surveys have been carried out. The three river valleys supported large numbers of wintering ducks in the 1960s (Savage 1968). The surrounding hills and crags are likely to support important numbers of breeding raptors, e.g. vultures, eagles and falcons. Other breeding species include Ciconia ciconia, Alectoris chukar and Sitta tephronota.

Non-bird biodiversity: Flora: the general area is very important for harbouring wild relatives of important cereal crop species.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
No conservation measures are known to have been taken. There is little information on current threats to the site; however, the area around Bakhma is relatively remote and sparsely populated, and deforestation is at a relatively low level compared to some other areas of Kurdistan (e.g. the Sulaimaniyah district). No conservation measures are known to have been proposed.

Information from C. King.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Bakhma, Dukan and Darbandikhan dams. Downloaded from on 07/12/2022.