El Qa plain

Country/territory: Egypt

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

Area: 200,000 ha

Nature Conservation Eqypt

Site description (baseline)
The site is a wide plain that flanks the South Sinai mountain massif on the west and separates it from the Gulf of Suez. It is elongate, with a north-west to south-east axis, being more than 100 km long and 20 km wide. The IBA is mostly concerned with the coastal portion of the plain, and extends from Wadi Feiran in the north to Ras Mohammed in the south, where migratory birds tend to concentrate and often land in vast numbers. The plain is dissected by many wadis that flow from the mountains of Sinai into the Gulf of Suez. To the north of El Tor a narrow mountain range separates the plain from the Gulf of Suez. This mountain, immediately overlooking the Gulf, is thought to be a very important departure point for many of the soaring birds that attempt to cross the Gulf of Suez in autumn. Sparse scrub vegetation and scattered Acacia trees cover sizeable sections of the plain. The town of El Tor is located within the area of concern and is the only major human settlement in the region.

Key biodiversity
See Box for key species. This IBA has a similar role and importance to migratory soaring birds as that of Gebel El Zeit (IBA EG031). The area is a major corridor for hundreds of thousands of migratory soaring birds in both autumn and spring. Almost 70% of Ciconia ciconia counted at Ras Mohammed in autumn 1998 actually make the crossing over the Gulf of Suez further north towards the town of El Tor. In a study of bird migration across the Middle East, all Ciconia ciconia, monitored by means of satellite transmitters, were observed to make the critical crossing of the Gulf of Suez over the El Qa Plain. The area probably holds one of the largest remaining breeding populations of Chlamydotis undulatan macqueenii in Egypt.

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Gazella dorcas (VU) is present in small numbers, probably representing the largest remaining population in Sinai.

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: El Qa plain. Downloaded from on 31/05/2023.