Judean desert

Year of compilation: 1994

Site description
Desert to the west of the Dead Sea, from 400 m below to 500 m above sea-level, extending c.45 km from En Gedi in the north to Mount Sedom in the south. Steep canyons run down to the Dead Sea and cliffs overlook the Rift Valley. There are several oases (e.g. En Gedi), some rocky, steppe and scrubby areas, and a little agriculture (mainly date-palm and Citrus plantations, and melons).

Key biodiversity
See box for key species. The area supports a wide range of species throughout the year. A major raptor and stork migration route passes along the 300-500-m-high cliffs of the Rift Valley, west of the Dead Sea. Large numbers of storks, Pernis apivorus and Accipiter brevipes pass through on migration. Other breeding species at En Gedi include Falco pelegrinoides, Halcyon smyrnensis, Merops orientalis, Ammomanes deserti, Hirundo obsoleta, Cercomela melanura, Oenanthe leucopyga, Nectarinia osea, Corvus ruficollis and C. rhipidurus.

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Pipistrellus ariel (very rare), Vulpes cana (K), Canis lupus (V), Caracal caracal (rare), Panthera pardus (rare), Capra nubiana (I) and Gazella gazella (V). Reptiles: Atractaspis engaddensis (endemic). Flora: Lisaea strigosa.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Most sites of ornithological interest in the area are protected as Nature Reserves (e.g. En Gedi, c.2,800 ha), and good cooperation exists with the Israel Air Force to prevent low flying which may disturb breeding raptors.

Data-sheet compiled by S. Blitzblau, reviewed by R. Frumkin.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Judean desert. Downloaded from on 06/02/2023.