Ain Sukhna

Country/territory: Egypt

IBA criteria met: A1, A3, A4iv (1999)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 15,000 ha

Nature Conservation Eqypt

Site description (2001 baseline)
Ain Sukhna is a warm, brackish spring located about 50 km south of Suez at the north-eastern foot of Gebel El Galala El Bahariya, overlooking the Gulf of Suez. The name, however, has traditionally been used in reference to a much larger region, roughly encompassing the wide coastal plain wedged between Gebel Ataqa in the north and Gebel El Galala El Bahariya in the south, and including the coastal portion of the latter mountain range. In the immediate vicinity of the spring there is a dense growth of salt-tolerant vegetation, composed primarily of Juncus, Tamarix and Nitraria. To the north and west there is a large sand-and-gravel plain, intersected by several large, shallow wadis with good vegetation cover, dominated by Hammada and Zilla, with numerous, scattered trees and bushes of Acacia, Tamarix and Calotropis. Gebel El Galala El Bahariya rises abruptly from the shallow waters of the Gulf of Suez, up to 1,274 m. Several small springs and oases are found in the deep wadis that drain the steep coastal (eastern) flanks of the mountain.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Table 2 for key species. Ain Sukhna is situated along a major flyway for Palearctic migrant birds. Large birds of prey (passive flyers) concentrate in significant numbers, particularly in spring. Most prominent of these are Milvus migrans, Buteo buteo, Aquila nipalensis, Aquila pomarina, Hieraaetus pennatus and Neophron percnopterus. Although no systematic counts have been carried out at Ain Sukhna, numerous single-day counts indicate that well over 100,000 large birds of prey and storks may pass through the area every year. Most birds congregate on the north-eastern ridges of Gebel El Galala El Bahariya to gain altitude before gliding north across flat country. Many birds are attracted to the springs of Ain Sukhna, particularly during the hotter part of the migration season, and fairly large numbers descend to drink and roost in the vicinity. A significant passage of Grus grus is also known from the area. These birds regularly roost in large numbers on the wide coastal plain.

The desert habitats of the area support a good diversity of characteristic Sahara–Sindian species. Small numbers of Larus leucophthalmus are regularly seen offshore in the Gulf of Suez, particularly in winter. Other prominent waterbirds include Larus genei, Larus fuscus and Larus cachinnans, all of which are migrants or winter visitors.

Raptors MOU - IBA listed under Table 3 of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Ain Sukhna. Downloaded from on 23/09/2023.