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.
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.
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.
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Zaranik Protected Area. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/05/2019.