The site comprises the Hilleh Protected Area, 35 km north-west of Bushire, established to protect the only major freshwater wetland on the south coast of Iran east of Khuzestan- a complex of permanent freshwater lagoons with extensive sedge marshes on seasonally flooded plains near the mouth of the Hilleh (Helleh, Halileh) Rud. The site also includes a large area of the adjacent sparsely vegetated desert plains and extensive intertidal mudflats. Overall there are c.35,600 ha of wetland. Land ownership is public.
See box for key species. The wetland supports large numbers of breeding, passage and wintering waterfowl of a wide variety of species, and is especially important for wintering Phalacrocorax carbo, herons and egrets, Platalea leucorodia, Phoenicopterus ruber, Anser anser, surface-feeding ducks, Circus aeruginosus, Grus grus (120) and shorebirds. Pterocles alchata breeds fairly commonly on the adjacent plains, and Coracias benghalensis is a fairly common resident. Plegadis falcinellus is an occasional passage migrant or winter visitor. At least 111 species have been recorded in the reserve.
Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The wetlands and a large area of surrounding desert (totalling 42,600 ha) were designated as a Wildlife Refuge in 1977, downgraded to Protected Area in the 1980s (this Protected Area is not listed in IUCN 1991). There are no threats known; the wetland is in a sparsely populated area and remains in excellent condition. It has been proposed that the Hilleh Delta Marshes be designated a Ramsar Site.
Data-sheet compiled by Dr D. A. Scott, reviewed by Dept of Environment.