Malaki dam

Country/territory: Saudi Arabia

IBA criteria met: A1, A4i, B1i, B2, B3 (1994)
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Area: 2,500 ha

IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) Threat (pressure) Condition (state) Action (response)
2013 low not assessed negligible
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Site description (baseline)
Malaki Dam lies at 120-250 m on the edge of the Asir foothills, c.15 km east of Abu Arish. The reservoir, used for flood control and irrigation, is fed by the four major wadis of the extreme south-west of Saudi Arabia, with a catchment area extending well into Yemen. High rates of sedimentation have occurred in the reservoir, reducing its depth and expanding the water surface to c.10 km2 at high-water levels. To the north the reservoir is bordered by basaltic lava plains, and several rocky outcrops with hot springs are found on the south side and between the main wadis such as Ain Wakrah. There are a variety of marshy areas near the reservoir and in the lower runs of the four wadis, and huge banks of silt have isolated some permanent and semi-permanent pools from the main reservoir. Many of these banks are covered with Tamarix woodland edged by a lush growth of weeds and sedge. Similar vegetation borders the main wadis, while the wadi beds are cultivated with sorghum whenever the water level allows it. Some of the rocky outcrops are vegetated by palms Phoenix reclinata and Hyphaene, succulent Adenium obesum and the rare tree Acacia alba. Isolated Dobera trees, Acacia scrub and Salvadora bushes are the main vegetation on more open, sandy areas. Much of the surrounding hill area is grazed by livestock.

Key biodiversity
See box for key species. The dam and its immediate area have one of the highest diversities of breeding birds in Arabia and hold a community representative of the lower Tihamah foothills, including many of the African elements: Terathopius ecaudatus, Turnix sylvatica, Burhinus capensis, Streptopelia semitorquata, Oxylophus jacobinus, Centropus superciliosus, Caprimulgus nubicus, Cypsiurus parvus, Coracias abyssinica, Mirafra cantillans, Anthreptes metallicus, Tchagra senegala and Emberiza tahapisi. Winter visitors include Ciconia nigra (21), Platalea leucorodia (84) and Limosa limosa (233), and large numbers of Ciconia ciconia, Grus grus (187), Plegadis falcinellus and Bubulcus ibis use the site as a roost, feeding mainly on the surrounding agricultural areas and/or rubbish dumps. At least 287 species have been recorded.

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Genetta felina (rare), Canis lupus (V). Reptiles: Coluber manseri (endemic). Fish: the wadi system holds endemic fish which are threatened with local extinction by the large numbers of introduced Tilapia in the reservoir.

Data-sheet compiled by P. Symens.

Raptors MOU - IBA listed under Table 3 of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Malaki dam. Downloaded from on 07/06/2023.