East Hammar

Country/territory: Iraq

IBA Criteria met: A1, A2, A4i, A4iii (2015)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 82,968 ha

Protection status:

Nature Iraq
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2014 very high not assessed negligible
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
East Hammar is an extensive area of wetlands. It is located at the upper corner formed by the meeting of the Euphrates and Shat Al-Arab Rivers and extends west to the oilfields of West Qurna. The Shatt Al-Arab flows southwards along the eastern edge of the site. Hammar Marshes were originally drained in a systematic campaign over the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s for various reasons. They were only reflooded in 2004 when the embankments blocking the water from entering the marshes were removed or destroyed by the local community. Gradually the plant cover (mainly reedbeds and reedmace) returned and birds and other wildlife came back to the site. The geology is Mesopotamian alluvium, mainly silts.

Key biodiversity
Additional Important Bird Observations: A total of 81 species was observed during the 2005-2010 surveys. In addition to those in the table, Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga and Eastern Imperial Eagle A. heliaca (both Vulnerable) were recorded in winter but in numbers below the IBA threshold. The endemic race of Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis iraquensis and endemic race of Hooded Crow Corvus cornix capellanus (Mesopotamian Crow) breed. The site also held breeding populations of seven Sahara-Sindian Desert biome-restricted species (Table XX) but these did not trigger inclusion under the A3 criterion. Other Important Fauna: Mammal data were collected in 2005-2010 and six species have been observed and/or reported in the area, including Golden Jackal Canis aureus and Grey Wolf Canis lupus. The southern marshes lie at the center of the distribution of an isolated subspecies of Smooth-coated Otter Lutrogale perspicillata maxwelli. Its status and distribution have been unclear due to confusion with the Eurasian Otter Lutra lutra (Near Threatened), which also occurs in the region. Recent surveys (Omer et al. 2012, Al-Sheikhly and Nader 2013) have confirmed the presence of smooth-coated otter in parts of the southern marshes for the first time since the 1950s-1960s and it is likely that this species occurs in Hammar Marshes too. Fish: Data were collected at this site for the years 2005-2007 and 2009, during which 25 species were reported. According to Coad (2010), significant species were: Acanthobrama marmid, Acanthopagrus cf. latus, Alburnus mossulensis, Carassius auratus, Carasobarbus luteus, Ctenopharyngodon idella, Cyprinus carpio, Cyprinion macrostomum, Gambusia holbrooki, Heteropneustes fossilis, Leuciscus vorax, Liza abu, L. subviridis, Luciobarbus xanthopterus, Mesopotamichthys sharpeyi, Silurus triostegus, Tenualosa ilisha, and Tor grypus. The following species were also documented, which are of no commercial importance but their conservation status in Iraq is unknown: Mastacembelus mastacembelus, Mystus pelusius, and Squalius Lepidus. The following marine fish species were also recorded: Eleutheronema tetradactylum, Bathygobius fuscus, Nemipterus bleekeri, and Otolithes ruber.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: East Hammar. Downloaded from on 27/11/2020.