Sabkhat al-Jabboul This is an IBA in Danger! 

Country/territory: Syria

IBA criteria met: A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2, B3 (1994)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 15,000 ha

The Syrian Society for the Conservation of Wildlife
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2018 not assessed very high high
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Site description (1994 baseline)
A large, shallow salt-lake in a closed basin of c.37,500 ha, lying just south of Jabbul village, 35 km east-south-east of Halab (Aleppo). In the 1970s the lake was filled entirely by local run-off of winter/spring rainfall and its extent was highly variable from year to year, reaching a maximum of c.3,000 ha and with at least a little standing water at most times of the year. A levée built on the east side by the 1970s prevented flooding of the majority of the salt-flat in the east of the basin. However, in 1988 large, new irrigation projects on the nearby steppe started discharging surplus water into the lake on a substantial scale; it is not known how saline the inflow is nor whether it is seasonal or perennial. This appears to have led to a higher and more stable water level than in the past, since the lake currently measures up to 20 km long and 5 km wide (c.10,000 ha), and although in the 1970s the flat and sandy banks had little or no marginal vegetation, they are now locally lined by extensive Phragmites reedbeds, on the southern and south-eastern shores at least. At least two large islands are created at times of high flooding. Around the lake shore there is turf, close-cropped by sheep. The surrounding steppe has a sparse shrubland of Haloxylon and Artemisia. Primary uses of the area are salt extraction, wildfowl hunting, and livestock grazing on the surrounding steppe by nomadic pastoralists; in the 1970s the sabkhah to the east was an artillery firing range.

Key biodiversity
An important wetland for wintering, migrating and breeding waterbirds. See box for key species. Other confirmed or probable breeding species include Alectoris chukar, Himantopus himantopus, Recurvirostra avosetta, Cursorius cursor, Charadrius leschenaultii, Sterna nilotica, S. caspia, S. albifrons, Pterocles alchata and Rhodopechys obsoleta. According to local people Phoenicopterus ruber sometimes breeds; 700+ were present in April 1993. In the 1970s the number of wintering waterfowl depended on the water level (maximum recorded was 'tens of thousands'), numbers of Phoenicopterus ruber having varied from none to c.8,000. Currently the higher and apparently more stable water level is probably supporting even larger waterfowl numbers than in the 1970s. Other wintering species include Pelecanus onocrotalus, Ciconia nigra, Cygnus olor, Anser albifrons (2,030, December 1972), A. anser, Anas crecca (thousands), A. acuta (1,000+), Fulica atra (10,000), Grus grus (155, December 1972), Calidris minuta (many hundreds) and Ceryle rudis (200). Other migrating species in spring (April) include Podiceps nigricollis (100) Platalea leucorodia (70), Tadorna tadorna (300), Himantopus himantopus (200), Philomachus pugnax (thousands) and Larus genei (100). The site was listed as a wetland of international importance by Carp (1980).

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Canis lupus (V), Gazella subgutturosa (rare).

Data-sheets compiled by: Dr Ibrahim Hanna and Dr Amer Majid Agha (translated by S. Zaiane); Dr Riad Sabbagh and Dr M. A. Kabbani; Mohamed Taha Abassi (translated by S. Zaiane).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Important Bird Area factsheet: Sabkhat al-Jabboul. Downloaded from on 21/02/2024.