Parc National de l'Ahaggar

Country/territory: Algeria

IBA criteria met: A1, A3 (2001)
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Area: 4,500,000 ha

IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2001 not assessed low not assessed
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Site description (2001 baseline)
The site lies in the far south of the country, in the Sahara desert, east of the town of Tamanrasset and c.500 km south-west of Parc National du Tassili N’Ajjer (site DZ028). The A’Haggar Massif comprises ancient volcanoes, jagged peaks and sedimentary rock plateaus with sculpted rock formations. There are areas of Pre-Cambrian granites, overlain in some areas above 1,900 m by Tertiary and Quaternary lavas. The massif extends south to within 230 km of the border with Niger and contains the highest mountains in Algeria, with a peak of 2,981 m at Mount Tahat, a second peak, Mount Assekrem at 2,728 m and several others exceeding 2,300 m. The climate is more temperate than that of the lowlands around the massif, with a mean annual July temperature of 29°C and a mean annual January temperature of 12°C. The overall annual mean of 21°C is lower than that on the adjacent Tanzerouft Plain and frosts are quite common at higher altitudes, with temperatures of -12°C and even -20°C and frequent snow recorded on the peaks. Rainfall increases with altitude, and annual levels fluctuate greatly: less than 10 mm has been recorded in some years at Tamanrasset, but 160 mm was recorded in 1933. The main drainage to the west is via the Oued Tamanrasset, which carries occasional floods out to the Tanzerouft Plain.

There are deep gorges and smaller oueds on the higher slopes and numerous gueltas between 1,000 and 2,000 m, which freeze in winter. Often these are composed of strings of pools among rocks and boulders in open riverbeds, with flowing water and even waterfalls for much of the year, depending on the rainfall. A variety of emergent and submerged macrophytes occur in the gueltas and watercourses, dominated in most places by Typha capensis and Phragmites australis. Along the banks of oueds, especially where the water-table is close to the surface, Nerium oleander and Tamarix gallica are common and Acacia nilotica and Hyphaene thebaica occur close to gueltas, although in many areas they have been replaced by planted Phoenix dactylifera. There are also occasional trees of Ficus sycomorus and Olea laperinii in inaccessible side gullies. There is some low-key tourism, but no permanent human habitation in the upper gueltas: lower down the gueltas are used for watering camels, cattle and goats. Permanent gueltas are very important features to the nomadic Tuareg herdsmen. At lower levels there is also some grazing of stock and some agricultural and horticultural cultivation and plantations of Phoenix dactylifera.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Table 2 for key species. Circus macrourus is considered ‘not rare, wintering in the Hoggar (= Ahaggar) mountains’. Two biome-restricted species, Pterocles lichtensteinii and Alaemon alaudipes, are recorded only from this site and one other IBA in Algeria (Parc National du Tassili N’Ajjer, site DZ028). The permanent gueltas are said to be very important for migrants crossing the Sahara, but there are no details of species or numbers.

Non-bird biodiversity: The Ramsar Site (Les Gueltates d’Issakarassene, 31,500 ha) supports concentrations of wetland-dependent species that have survived through adaptation to the gradual drying out of the Sahara. A number of fish (Tilapia and Barbus spp.), including some desert endemics, are recorded from the site, with Tilapia zillii widespread in the upper permanent gueltas except those where winter temperatures are too low. Various amphibia (Bufo spp. and Rana sp.) are recorded, and mammals known to occur include Felis chaus, Acinonyx jubatus (VU) and Gazella dorcas (VU).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Parc National de l'Ahaggar. Downloaded from on 03/10/2023.