A diverse section of the hot, humid coastal Tihamah centred on Kiyad and including the Makhshush sabkhah/outwash fan and Wadi Hali and Wadi Qarnayn with their permanent pools, as well as adjacent lava fields, wooded savanna and rocky foothills. Sandy coastal areas support Salvadora bushes but more inland vegetation is dominated by Acacia tortilis, A. ehrenbergiana and A. asak trees. Sparse shrubs and herbs include Dipterygium, Heliotropium, Indigofera, Malva and Euphorbia. The whole area is very heavily grazed by domestic stock, but rains can produce a good cover of grasses Pennisetum and Panicum. There is considerable cultivation, mainly of sorghum and millet, and charcoal production is practised in the foothills.
See box for key species. The area has not been well studied in summer, but other known or presumed breeding species include Scopus umbretta, Melierax metabates, Aquila verreauxii, Pterocles exustus, Coracias abyssinica and Tockus nasutus, and other species regularly present all year or in winter and which may breed include Pelecanus rufescens, Terathopius ecaudatus and Circaetus gallicus.
Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Caracal caracal (rare), Canis lupus (V) and Gazella gazella cora (V; at Makhshush).
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The regular presence of NCWCD personnel conducting bustard research has done much to gain local support for wildlife protection. However, habitat degradation (overgrazing, wood-cutting, charcoal burning) combined with severe pressure from illegal hunting will probably eliminate Ardeotis arabs and the gazelles in the near future, since most hunting is probably done by non-local people. The Makhshush outwash fan is proposed as a Special Nature Reserve, Natural Reserve, Biological Reserve and Resource Use Reserve in the NCWCD System Plan for Protected Areas, on account of its gazelles. Rahmani and Shobrak (1992b) suggested that the whole site as described here (not just Makhshush) be designated a Resource Use Reserve containing several smaller areas strictly protected for bustards and gazelles; the wider area would have stricter control of hunting, tree-felling, etc., but would otherwise not infringe too much on current land-use. The appointment of rangers from the relatively poor local community would bring some direct benefit from conservation.
Data-sheet compiled by M. Shobrak.
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Al-Habrow al-Arabi. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 29/09/2022.