A huge tabular mass of uplifted and greatly hardened limestone which dominates the Hajar mountains of northern Oman, ranging from 600 m up to the twin peaks of Jabal Shams at 2,980 m, the highest in eastern Arabia. The sloping strata of this anticline form pavements which end abruptly in the precipitous northern face. The southern slopes are dissected by deep gorges and there are several springs. The Acacia tortilis parkland of the lowest altitudes gives way to Euphorbia larica shrub slopes, then on broken ground above 1,350 m to Monotheca–Olea woodland, and above 2,300 m to the summit zone of large Juniperus trees and perennial tussock grasses. Many small villages and other settlements occur in the mountains where there are adequate sources of perennial water; formerly remote, they are now being increasingly linked by graded roads. The larger settlements cultivate extensive date-palm plantations, sometimes on terraces, except at Sayq, where there are other crops, e.g. rose gardens. Pastoralism is practised wherever possible.
See box for key species. Other breeding species include Circaetus gallicus (occasional), Hieraaetus fasciatus, Pterocles lichtensteinii, Columba palumbus, Anthus similis and Emberiza striolata.
Non-bird biodiversity: The mountain provides an important refuge for endemic and relict species: at least 14 plant species, eight reptile and three fish species or subspecies endemic, near-endemic or apparently endemic to Oman are known. Mammals: the rare ungulate Hemitragus jayakari (V), endemic to the northern mountains of northern Oman, still occurs as do Gazella gazella (V) and Canis lupus (V), though all are threatened.
Data-sheet compiled by Simon Albrecht.
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Jabal al Akhdar. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 02/07/2022.