A scenically beautiful, major wadi flowing from the rugged Sharrah mountains at 1,200 m down to the Rift Valley floor at sea-level. Bare, rounded mountains and sandstone cliffs occur at the head of the wadi, giving way to metamorphic rock at the base of the escarpment, where the wadi opens out onto a gravelly outwash plain with mobile sand-dunes (60-70% within the reserve). At higher elevations, there is evergreen Quercus woodland on steeper slopes, mixed with Pinus halepensis, Pistacia and scattered Juniperus and Cupressus, and extensive areas of herbs and scrub; steppe-like Artemisia dominates on gentler slopes and also with Anabasis at lower elevations. Along the wadi there is a considerable amount of lush vegetation and trees, including Phragmites, Nerium and Pistacia. There is no cultivation apart from traditional orchards at Dana village. Outside the reserve there is a local irrigation project at Qurayqira on the Rift Valley floor. The main land-uses are wildlife conservation, research and tourism. There are at least several Roman antiquity sites (soon to be excavated), including copper mines at Finan.
See box for key species. A very diverse assemblage of breeding birds of unusually mixed biogeographical origins. Other breeding species include Circaetus gallicus, Buteo rufinus, Hieraaetus fasciatus, Falco pelegrinoides, Otus scops, Eremalauda dunni, Lullula arborea, Oenanthe lugens, Sylvia hortensis (probably), Nectarinia osea, Corvus rhipidurus and Petronia petronia. Emberiza caesia is a scarce passage migrant. There is a huge spring migration of raptors, which may total up to 250,000 birds per season, but it has not been investigated in depth; species include Buteo buteo (700, April) and Aquila nipalensis (35, April).
Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Canis lupus (V), Meles meles (rare), Panthera pardus (rare; last unconfirmed report 1987), c.200 Capra nubiana (I) and Gazella gazella (V); other likely species are Felis margarita (rare) and Caracal caracal (rare). Flora: there is a grove of 15 ancient Cupressus sempervirens trees, unique in Jordan.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The establishment of Dana Wildlife Reserve started in 1989; the area of the reserve extends downwards beyond the originally proposed 400 m contour, down onto the Wadi Araba plain at 200 m at Finan. Re-introduction of Capra nubiana and Panthera pardus is being investigated. The Fujeij Grazing Reserve (1,000 ha) lies adjacent to the reserve, at the top of the escarpment. The main environmental problems were formerly overgrazing and hunting of larger animals, but these have now been brought under control. An agreement is due to be signed to avert the possibility of any copper/manganese mining restarting in the Finan area.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Dana. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 29/01/2020.