Lake Chad

Country/territory: Chad

IBA criteria met: A1, A3, A4i, A4iii (2001)
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Area: 2,600,000 ha

IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2001 not assessed very high not assessed
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Site description (2001 baseline)
During the twentieth century the extent of Lake Chad has fluctuated considerably as a result of cyclical drought and flooding. It has ranged from a surface area of almost 26,000 km² in June 1962 (Kindler et al. 1989) to 1,653 km² in April 1985 (Kusnir 1993). At its lowest level, the two basins have been physically separated by a dry ridge. The present lake is only a tiny remnant of the Paleo-Lake Chad, which first came into existence by tectonic subsidence 35 million years ago. There are three main types of habitat within the lake: islands of floating and rooted papyrus Cyperus papyrus and reeds Phragmites sp. and islands which are the tops of submerged dunes; extensive beds of reedmace Typha australis, papyrus and other sedges around the shore; and areas of open water. The vast populations of migrant birds at Lake Chad are sustained in part by midges, the aquatic larval stage of which (together with other zooplankton and phytoplankton) are at the base of the food chain of the abundant fish population. Some 46% of the lake and its peripheral marshes are situated within Chad.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Table 2 for key species. Waterbird counts include 61,900 wildfowl (Anatidae) in 1984. In addition, three species of the Sudan–Guinea Savanna biome occur (see Table 2).

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals of global conservation concern that occur, or used to do so, include Loxodonta africana (EN), Tragelaphus spekei (LR/nt) and Lutra maculicollis (VU).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Lake Chad. Downloaded from on 28/11/2023.