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This site is called a sebkhet, or salt-lake, though parts of it have the character of a garaet or freshwater marsh. It is the lowest point of a major plain between Gafsa and Gabès, between the Djebel Orbata and the Djebel Hachichina, where steppe meets desert. In many winters it remains dry, but after wet winters it collects fresh water, like the other smaller depressions of the region (Bled Es-Segui), such as Garaet Fatnassa and Garaet Zougrata. Much of the lake floor is without a salt-crust and can be cultivated when rainfall permits. In many ways it resembles a southern version of Ichkeul or Kelbia, and has not as yet been affected by dam-building. The surrounding steppe is dominated by Arthrophytum species and Astragalus armatus. The shores of the sebkha support a halophytic vegetation in which Arthrocnemum indicum and Salicornia arabica are conspicuous elements.
See Box and Table 2 for key species. Populations of wintering and breeding waterbirds vary from year to year with precipitation. In wet winters, there are good numbers of Palearctic ducks (and even geese), including Oxyura leucocephala (40–80), and Grus grus, while in wet springs many waterbirds nest; there was a large colony of nesting Phoenicopterus ruber in the last wet summer, 1990, when large numbers of Marmaronetta angustirostris also nested.
Non-bird biodiversity: The mammal Gazella dorcas (VU) occurs but is rare.
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Sebkhet Sidi Mansour. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 16/08/2022.