Jasiira lagoon and Muqdisho islets

Country/territory: Somalia

IBA criteria met: A1, A2, A3, A4i (2001)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 5,000 ha

Site description (baseline)
Jasiira (Gezira) lagoon lies on the Indian Ocean coast, south of Muqdisho. The lagoon is separated from the sea by a series of sand-dunes which support some scrub vegetation. The lagoon feeds into saltpans which are used for the commercial extraction of salt. The land is flat for up to 3 km inland, at which point it rises steeply to an altitude of 100 m. The habitat here is also dominated by dunes covered with Acacia and Delonix spp., other trees and thorn-bush and is dotted with seasonal pools. Offshore, adjacent to and south of Jasiira lagoon, lies a string of four small islets, all of which can be reached at low tide by wading. ‘First Mosque Island’ is situated immediately offshore from Jasiira. ‘North Island’, a little further south, lies 170 m offshore and measures 78 × 23 m; half the island is bare, eroded coral rock, and the other half supports a sparse covering of coarse grass. ‘Second Mosque Island’ is 171 × 41 m and is covered with a low growth of Suaeda and areas of coarse grass and bare rock, while Buntapsi island lies 180 m offshore, is 55 × 25 m and is mainly covered with coarse grass.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. Spizocorys obbiensis occurs in the dunes around the lagoon. Sea caves on the mainland are important for breeding colonies of Apus berliozi. The islets are used from June to August by breeding Sterna dougallii and S. fuscata. In 1980, at least 500 S. dougallii nests were recorded, while in July 1987, 600 S. dougallii were counted at roost. The lagoon is frequented by a wide diversity of Palearctic migrant waders from August to April, while Afrotropical waterbirds such as Phoenicopterus ruber and Egretta gularis are present year-round. Many thousands of terns and some gulls, including Sterna caspia, S. nilotica, S. paradisaea and Larus fuscus, feed in the coastal waters off this site and roost both on the mainland and on the islets. It is possible that numbers will be found to exceed 20,000.

Non-bird biodiversity: The perimeter of the lagoon apparently supports a number of rare plant species.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Jasiira lagoon and Muqdisho islets. Downloaded from on 01/06/2023.