Jbel Moussa

Country/territory: Morocco

IBA Criteria met: A4iv (2001)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 4,000 ha

Groupe de Recherche pour la Protection des Oiseaux au Maroc

Site description
Jbel Moussa is the southern of the two Pillars of Hercules, situated opposite the Rock of Gibraltar on the African side of the Straits of Gibraltar, at the narrow 15-km-wide western entrance to the Mediterranean. A karstic limestone massif, rising steeply from sea-level to 841 m, the site covers some 4,000 ha and includes the small island of Leila, several rocky headlands and bays and the sandy beach of Ras Ciress. The terrestrial vegetation consists of Pinus and Quercus woodland. Annual rainfall averages 1,000 mm. Human activities include fishing, agriculture and tourism.

Key biodiversity
See Box for key species. The site’s principal importance is as a migration bottleneck. Jbel Moussa provides uplifting air currents that are particularly sought out by migrating raptors and soaring species. Huge numbers of European migrants have been recorded passing through, including (per season) more than 90,000 Ciconia ciconia and C. nigra, up to 150,000 Pernis apivorus, 50,000 Milvus migrans and several thousand Hieraaetus pennatus, Circaetus gallicus and Neophron percnopterus. One Aquila adalberti was seen passing through in September 1993, and the species is undoubtedly a regular migrant in small numbers. Many migrating passerines and waders also transit the site, including Larus audouinii, which is a regular migrant along the coast between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.Over 100 species have been recorded in total, of which 50 are known to breed, including four species of the Mediterranean North Africa biome (see Table 2). A colony of Larus cachinnans nests on the island of Leila.

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

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 (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Jbel Moussa. Downloaded from on 08/08/2022.