Taif escarpment

Year of compilation: 1994

Site description
A 40-km-long by 10-km-wide stretch of the west-facing granitic escarpment of the northern Asir mountains, rising from 500 m in Wadi Nu'man to the peaks of Jabal Daka and Jabal Barad at 2,600 m (from 21°22'N 40°15'E south to 21°06'N 40°18'E). The climate is reasonably moist at higher levels but dry in the wadi. Much of the site is rocky and rather barren, but a narrow wooded zone along the escarpment lip is the only locality in Arabia where Mediterranean Juniperus phoenicia and Afrotropical J. excelsa overlap to any extent; shrubs are dominated by Euryops and Lavandula. Valleys east of the scarp have Acacia iraqensis woodland and patches of endangered tree Euphorbia and Aloe. Foothills, wadis and the lower slopes to the west have various Acacia species. There is considerable agricultural terracing and grazing; traditional activities include honey production and rose-growing, and the area is a major recreational resort.

Key biodiversity
See box for key species. Other breeding species include Aquila verreauxii. A passage of raptors occurs in autumn, with maximum daily totals in October of 4,000 Buteo buteo and 500 Aquila nipalensis.

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

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Part of the site is included in the NCWCD System Plan for Protected Areas, and a major management plan for a nature reserve and recreation area has been compiled by NCWCD and King Abdulaziz University. There is high pressure on land for housing development, and, as the area was re-opened to built development by government decree in 1990, continued deterioration is likely. Terracing may be increasing, at the expense of Juniperus woodland, and there is fairly high grazing pressure and doubtless some illegal hunting.

Data-sheet compiled by Dr Stephen F. Newton.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Taif escarpment. Downloaded from on 18/08/2022.