Kharku Wildlife Refuge

Year of compilation: 1994

Site description
Kharku is a low, sandy, coral island with fringing reefs in the northern Persian Gulf, c.30 km off the mainland coast and 60 km north-west of Bushire. Surface water is lacking, but there is a freshwater well. Most of the island is covered in dune vegetation of grasses and low shrubs. It is fringed by a sandy beach with low vegetation. There are a few banyan trees near the south end of the island. The island was uninhabited until the late 1970s, when an airforce camp with a substantial landing stage and a number of permanent buildings was built at the north end. The nearby island of Khark (Kharg) is a major oil terminal.

Key biodiversity
See box for key species. An important site for breeding terns. Surveys in 1974 and 1977 indicated that c.5 pairs of Sterna bergii, 600 pairs of S. bengalensis, 2,500 pairs of S. repressa and 250-300 pairs of S. anaethetus were frequenting the island, but breeding success was minimal in both years because of egg-collecting by local fishermen.

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Kharku and the nearby much larger island of Khark were designated as a Protected Region in 1960 with a total area of 2,438 ha. The reserve was upgraded to Wildlife Refuge in the early 1970s, but the Khark portion was de-notified a few years later leaving only Kharku protected in the Kharko Wildlife Refuge (312 ha). The island was visited by egg-collectors every year during the 1970s, and the terns' breeding success was extremely low. There is an ever-present threat of oil pollution from the major terminal on the nearby island of Khark.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Kharku Wildlife Refuge. Downloaded from on 20/01/2021.