Dalmaj Marsh

Country/territory: Iraq

IBA criteria met: A1, A2, A3, A4i, A4ii, A4iii (2014)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 92,076 ha

Nature Iraq
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2013 not assessed very high negligible
For more information about IBA monitoring, please click here

Site description (1994 baseline)
A large, isolated haur to the west of the River Tigris, about 35 km south-west of Kut town. The haur receives overflow from irrigation canals and floodwater from the Tigris. 2014 updates. Dalmaj wetland contains both terrestrial habitats ranging from arid areas to true desert with sand dunes, and a large body of water that can be divided into an open-water lake reaching depths exceeding 2 m and true marshes with dense reedbeds and shallower water (less than 1 m). The geology of the area is Mesopotamian alluvium, mainly silts.

Key biodiversity
The site was listed as a wetland of international importance by Carp (1980), but no specific ornithological information is available.

Non-bird biodiversity: No information available to BirdLife International.

2014 updates. Dalmaj is rich in biodiversity, being a wintering ground for numerous waterfowl and a main breeding area for Marbled Duck Marmaronettaangustirostris, Ferruginous Duck Aythyanyroca, and Red-crested PochardNettarufina, three of the four known breeding ducks in Iraq, and a major breeding site for the endemic Basra Reed Warbler Additional Important Bird Observations: A total of 140 species have been observed. In addition to those mentioned in the table the Vulnerable Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca and the Near Threatened Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquataare regularly seen on migration and in winter but in sub-IBA threshold numbers. The Irano-Turanian biome-restricted Menetries’s Warbler Sylvia mystaceais resident. The endemic race of Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis iraquensis and the Iraqi race of Hooded Crow Corvus cornix capellanus (also known as Mesopotamian Crow) both occur. This site boasts significant fauna diversity in comparison with other sites of similar area. Though mammals were not consistently the subject of the survey effort, 19 species were found or reported in Dalmaj including Honey Badger Mellivoracapensis, Caracal Caracal,StripedHyenaHyaenahyaena(Near Threatened), Ruppell’s Fox Vulpesrueppellii, Gray Wolf Canis lupus, Otter Lutralutra(Near Threatened), Wild Boar Susscrofa(in quite large herds) and wild cat (either Felissilvestrisor F. chaus). According to reports by locals and hunters, the last group of gazelles in Dalmaj was seen in the late 1990s. These were likely Goitered Gazelle Gazellasubgutturosa(Vulnerable). Due to the lack of observations, and increasing disturbance, the likelihood of gazelle presence in Dalmaj is now likely to be low. A notable reptile observed at Dalmaj was the Desert Monitor Varanus griseus. Dalmaj is one of the most important wetlands in Iraq for fish. The BunniMesopotamichthyssharpeyiin Dalmaj appears to be the last healthy stock found in southern Iraq and might be an important source for the re-introduction of this species into the southern marshes of Iraq. Fish data were collected from 2006 to 2009, when nine species were reported. According to Coad’s (2010), the following significant species were:Carassiusauratus, Cyprinuscarpio,Heteropneustesfossilis,Carasobarbusluteus, Leuciscusvorax, Liza abu, Mesopotamichthyssharpeyi and Silurustriostegus.Mastacembelusmastacembeluswasalso documented, which is of no economic importance but their conservation status in Iraq is unknown. Additionally, in recent years introduced Tilapiazilliihave become increasing reported by fishermen.

Information compiled by Dr D. A. Scott and D. J. Brooks, reviewed by Dr Khalid Y. Al-Dabbagh and Dr Hanna Y. Siman.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Dalmaj Marsh. Downloaded from on 10/12/2023.