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Lake Tunis is a large, shallow lagoon, possibly a former mouth of the Medjerda river, once connected to the sea, but now separated from it on the eastern side by the coastal dunes on which Carthage and La Goulette stand. Tunis, the capital, is situated on higher ground to the west of the lake, and is gradually spreading all round it, joining up with Radès on the southern side. The lake is bisected by a ship canal and motorway. In the northern half of the lake is the island of Chikly which has a ruined Spanish fortress on it. The southern half of the lake includes the former salt-production pans at Radès/Mégrine. The lake formerly received most of the sewage effluent and rainwater run-off from Tunis, but in the 1960s and 1970s, a clean-up operation was carried out, with waste-water being piped to a treatment station at Ariana, and circulation of water in the shallow lake improved. In the 1980s, most of the northern shores of the lagoon were reclaimed for urban expansion, destroying all natural habitat. The same has occurred in the late 1990s in the southern half of the lagoon, and the saltpans have been closed and filled in. The current ornithological status of the lake is uncertain, as the reclamation work on the south of the lake is still in progress, but it is likely that it will retain very little of its former ornithological interest, although some birds originating from nearby Sebkhet Sedjoumi and Ariana may still occur.
See Box for key species. Other wintering waterbirds found on Lake Radès include many hundreds of Podiceps nigricollis (a species rarely found in such numbers elsewhere in Tunisia), Casmerodius albus, Ardea cinerea, Plegadis falcinellus, Platalea leucorodia, Tadorna tadorna (200–2,000), T. ferruginea, Anas acuta (500–800), A. clypeata (1,000–2,000), Aythya fuligula, A. ferina, Fulica atra (500–4,000), Himantopus himantopus, Larus genei, L. ridibundus, L. cachinnans and Sterna albifrons. The island of Chikly has breeding colonies of about 70 pairs of Egretta garzetta and about 100 pairs of Larus cachinnans which breed at the base of the ruins, together with the occasional Tadorna tadorna, and with Falco peregrinus and F. tinnunculus in the ruins themselves. Elsewhere, around the shores of the lake, there were formerly extensive breeding colonies of Sterna albifrons and Glareola pratincola, with good populations of Charadrius alexandrinus, Himantopus himantopus and Burhinus oedicnemus; it is unlikely that many of these breeding waders will survive the recent reclamation.
Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lac de Tunis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 08/03/2021.