Zaranik Protected Area

Country/territory: Egypt

IBA Criteria met: A1, A4i (2001)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 25,000 ha

Nature Conservation Eqypt

Site description
Zaranik Protected Area is located at the eastern end of Lake Bardawil and encompasses an eastern extension of that lake: the Zaranik Lagoon. The lagoon is shallow, with numerous small islets scattered throughout it, most of which are covered with dense saltmarsh vegetation. Extensive mudflats and saltmarshes are found along the lagoon’s shores, merging into sabkha and sand-dunes further inland. A saltworks was established at Zaranik in the early 1980s, prior to its declaration as a protected area, consisting of a pumping station, extensive evaporation pools and saltpans. The facility only became active in 1997.

Key biodiversity
See Box for key species. Zaranik’s importance is primarily as a bottleneck area for migrant Palearctic waterbirds. Every autumn, hundreds of thousands of waterbirds flying along the eastern Mediterranean coastline concentrate at Zaranik or pass through the area, many landing to rest and feed before resuming their journey southwards across Sinai or westwards to the Nile valley.

The maximum counts (seasonal totals) of some of the most numerous autumn migrants recorded during four seasons between 1979 and 1992 at Zaranik are as follows: Pelecanus onocrotalus (2,122), Ixobrychus minutus (4,162), Nycticorax nycticorax (2,742), Ardeola ralloides (5,487), Casmerodius albus (4,239), Ardea cinerea (6,194), Ardea purpurea (5,349), Anas querquedula (221,616), Recurvirostra avosetta (6,828), Glareola pratincola (490), Charadrius hiaticula (1,909), Charadrius alexandrinus (5,687), Charadrius leschenaultii (197), Calidris alba (5,776), Calidris minuta (15,503), Calidris alpina (8,134), Limosa limosa (1,254), Larus genei (2,011), Sterna hirundo (12,433), Sterna albifrons (1,810), Chlidonias hybridus (950) and Chlidonias leucopterus (18,436).

Vast numbers of passerines and near-passerines also arrive at the coast, as they do everywhere along the Egyptian Mediterranean shoreline, but here hunting and persecution is illegal and controlled. Some 270 bird species have been reported in Zaranik. Only 10 species are known to breed in the Protected Area, of which Sterna albifrons and Charadrius alexandrinus are the most numerous and prominent. Zaranik is also the only locality in Egypt where Recurvirostra avosetta is known to breed on a regular basis (five pairs in summer 1994), and large numbers also winter (up to 700, December 1998).

Non-bird biodiversity: Reptiles: Caretta caretta (EN) was recently found to have its largest breeding concentration along the Egyptian Mediterranean in the Protected Area. Chelonia mydas (EN) is suspected of breeding locally and Dermochelys coriacea (EN) has been recorded once. Islets and littoral dunes fringing the southern margins of the Zaranik Lagoon and adjacent sabkha are said to have held a small population of Testudo kleinmanni (EN). Trapelus savignii, endemic to the Isthmic Desert and the western Negev, is found throughout the sandy habitats of the region. Mammals: the rare Vulpes zerda (DD) has been recorded.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Zaranik Protected Area. Downloaded from on 09/08/2022.