Wadi Jawwah lies at 100-300 m in the foothills east of Abu Arish and south of al-Arida, inland from Jizan. It consists of a sandy and clay bed surrounded by often steep volcanic rocky slopes, and there is a small artificial dam, behind which lies a small lake for most of the year. Scattered Dobera and Ficus trees dominate the landscape and there are many remnant patches of Acacia and Salvadora scrub. The rocky outcrops and bordering slopes are only sparsely vegetated with Acacia and succulents but can have a surprising cover of grasses after heavy rain. The wadi is densely populated and most of it is cultivated with sorghum and millet.
See box for key species. The wadi has one of the highest diversities of breeding species known in Arabia, some in the highest densities known in the country, including Terathopius ecaudatus, Coturnix delegorguei, Numida meleagris (the single most important site in Saudi Arabia: c.350 birds in 1988 and over 1,000 in 1990), Burhinus capensis, Streptopelia roseogrisea, Treron waalia, Centropus superciliosus, Bubo africanus, Caprimulgus inornatus, Halcyon leucocephala, Merops albicollis, Coracias abyssinica, Tockus nasutus, Anthreptes metallicus, Tchagra senegala, Cinnyricinclus leucogaster and Emberiza tahapisi. The lake has breeding Tachybaptus ruficollis, and wintering waterbirds have included Plegadis falcinellus (72). There is a colony of 1,200-1,500 pairs of Bubulcus ibis 50 km to the south at Tuwal, nearby but outside the site. There is a strong autumn migration of raptors, including Circaetus gallicus (18), Buteo buteo vulpinus (975), Aquila nipalensis (650) and Hieraaetus pennatus (12).
Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The local Emir traditionally protects Numida meleagris against hunting and, more recently, against egg-collecting. The rapidly rising population is leading to increased pressure on natural scrubland for agricultural development; there is heavy grazing by goats and camels, as well as wood gathering. The site is proposed as a Special Nature Reserve, Natural Reserve, Biological Reserve and Resource Use Reserve in the NCWCD System Plan for Protected Areas, and was proposed for declaration in 1991, but this has been frozen.