Site description (2001 baseline)
An extensive wadi system in eastern-central Sinai. The wadi’s catchment area extends from the El Tih Plateau in the south and the Israeli border in the east, to a ridge of hills in the north and west that separate this watershed from that of Wadi El Arish. The wadi and its numerous tributaries cut through slightly undulating gravel-plains and low-lying limestone country with scattered hills. The main tributaries that flow into Wadi Gerafi include Wadi Tamarani and Wadi El Beida. This wadi system flows north-east, eventually reaching Wadi Araba in the Negev. Vegetation is largely restricted to runnels, depressions and wadis, although wide torrent-beds are largely devoid of vegetation. A fairly dense growth of large Acacia trees lines the main wadi and its major tributaries, forming open parkland. Retama forms dense, bushy cover along the fringes of wadis and in depressions. Other dominant flora includes Hammada, Panicum and Fagonia. Bedouins, who have scattered settlements and cultivation along the wadi system, sparsely inhabit the area.
See Box and Table 2 for key species. Wadi Gerafi and its tributaries hold nearly all of Egypt’s Sahara–Sindian biome-restricted species, more than any other IBA in the country. This reflects the exceptional diversity of habitat and landscape features, and the location of the area at the meeting point of the distributional boundaries of several avian species. The area is one of the very few remaining locations in Egypt where Chlamydotis undulata macqueenii breeds occasionally and still winters regularly in moderate numbers. In addition, the region falls within a major migration route for soaring birds, which pass through on a rather broad front. Many of these birds roost in the area.
Non-bird biodiversity: Reptiles: Coluber sinai and Telescopus hoogstraali are two snakes that are endemic to South Sinai and the Negev. The former was found in one of the southern tributaries of Wadi Gerafi, while the latter almost certainly occurs in the area. Mammals: Canis lupus probably inhabits the area in very small numbers. Vulpes rueppelli (DD) is uncommon. Gazella dorcas (VU) is still found in small numbers, but is declining as a result of excessive hunting.
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Wadi Gerafi. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/site/factsheet/wadi-gerafi-iba-egypt on 03/12/2023.