Raydah escarpment

Year of compilation: 1994

Site description
Lying c.15 km west of Abha, the site is a very steep west-facing slope with crags, falling from 2,700 to 1,600 m in less than 3 km. The soil is very thin. There are permanent streams and the climate is generally cool and wet, the area being frequently cloud-covered. The escarpment supports a more-or-less intact forest, predominantly Juniperus excelsa, with Olea europea on upper and north-facing slopes and more deciduous trees (Nuxia, Ficus, Acacia) lower down and in valleys and gullies. The bottom third and south-facing slopes are often dominated by Buddleja and by tree aloes Aloe sabaea and other succulents. Bee-keeping is a common human activity and there is moderate to heavy use of the area for recreation.

Key biodiversity
Possibly the most important compact site in Saudi Arabia for south-west Arabian endemic, and other, woodland species. See box for key species. Other breeding species include Accipiter badius (1-2 pairs), Aquila verreauxii, Columba arquatrix (probable), Streptopelia lugens, Treron waalia, Otus scops pamelae, Monticola rufocinereus, Phylloscopus umbrovirens, Terpsiphone viridis, Zosterops abyssinicus and Pica pica asirensis. There may be a considerable raptor passage through the area, and many Sylvia (especially S. atricapilla) stop off on migration. Many warblers winter, especially Phylloscopus collybita.

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Papio hamadryas (endemic), Caracal caracal (rare) and Canis lupus (V).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The site is an established NCWCD Special Nature Reserve with two rangers, but there is no control over livestock grazing, vehicular access and road maintenance. A road recently bulldozed along the steep slope requires frequent clearance due to continuing rock fall, and spoil from this has destroyed large areas of forest. Soil-water retention is probably reduced by the road, and most Juniperus are in poor condition. A small, previously abandoned farm within the reserve has been reoccupied, and this may encourage illegal agricultural development.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Raydah escarpment. Downloaded from on 09/07/2020.