The site comprises a wooded area on the Mabla mountain massif, c.25 km west of Obock. The site is little-known biologically, partly because security problems have restricted visits since c.1990. The area consists of mountains and plateaus, intersected by numerous narrow wadis. Some remnants of Juniperus woodland reportedly exist, but most of the woodland is degraded, with signs of significant human disturbance. The secondary woodland is dominated by Acacia seyal (characteristic of disturbed areas) and Buxus hildebranti, with Acacia etbaica locally dominant and B. hildebranti the main species in the densely vegetated wadis. Several villages occur within the IBA or just outside, and the area is used for grazing livestock and firewood-collection.
See Box and Table 2 for key species. The site is one of only two known for Francolinus ochropectus (Critically Endangered); in 1985 the population was estimated at c.200 birds, but current figures and trends are unknown. The site is little-known ornithologically but, in addition to six species of the Somali–Masai biome, two Sahel and one Sahara–Sindian biome species are also found here (see Table 2). In 1985, the site held one pair of resident Aquila verreauxii andthe only known breeding colony of Gyps rueppellii in the country (Welch et al. 1986); the distinctive yellow-tailed form of Pytilia melba, of uncertain taxonomic status, has been seen here (Welch and Welch 1998).
Non-bird biodiversity: A few remnant trees of Juniperus procera (LR/nt) occur. The mammal Papio hamadryas (LR/nt) is reasonably common and Oreotragus oreotragus (LR/cd) has been recorded.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
From the little information available, it would appear that the woodland has been heavily used for firewood and grazing, and that conservation measures, including a socio-economic programme, are needed to relieve human pressure on the habitat. However, the area remains inaccessible to outsiders due to security concerns.
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mabla. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 01/04/2023.