April 11, 2012

Birding in the Hala'ib Triangle

African collared dove

Two years ago, a group of bird watchers went to south-eastern Egypt near the border of Sudan to explore the Jebel Elba region. Here's their birding report and some descriptions of their expedition.

“In the Eastern Desert, the mountains rise gradually from west to east to form a dramatic barrier. Amongst the notable mountains is Gebel Elba which because of its unique attributes it is the most important area for flora and fauna in Egypt. It can also be classed as one of the least explored corners of the world but nevertheless is subject to innumerable threats.”

“Gebel Elba is an igneous mountain complex located approximately 20 kilometres west of the Red Sea and rises to a maximum altitude of 1437 metres. The highest peaks act as a “dew trap”, taking the condensation from the clouds that often cover the mountain. The coast curves slightly to the east giving Gebel Elba an unusually broad front to the sea across a 25 kilometre strip of relatively flat land. This enables moist air from the Red Sea to condense on the peak of the mountain to create a “mist oasis”.”

“The area is restricted for foreign visitors, but after long negotiations, Birding in Egypt with the generous assistance of the Ministry of Defence and Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA), organised and conducted a preliminary survey of the massif between 3 and 10 of April 2010, with an international ornithological team composed by 6 members, based on their own individual request.”

“We fully understand and applaud the government restrictions in the area due to the highly sensitive environment already affected by the prolonged drought, and have no intention of encouraging tourism of any nature in the region at any time.”

Full report.

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