Wildlife of Jordan

Nature reserves in Jordan (The Guardian) Jordan’s nature reserves and their chic eco-lodges are well worth a visit

The Azraq wetland, an area of pools surrounded by tall grasses, bullrushes and reeds, is one of Jordan’s six nature parks, established by the country’s Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature. A million migratory birds used to stop here every year – filling the sky until they blocked out the sun. But no more. Since the 1980s the site has been in a state of environmental disaster as the Azraq water basin which feeds it has also been pumped to supply the population.

Wild Jordan projects

Much of the country’s diversity is due to the formation of the Great Rift Valley. The titanic forces that created the Rift Valley produced the high western mountains. The altitude ranges from around 400m below sea level by the shores of the Dead Sea up to 1854m at the edge of the Southern Heights. Apart from the rift valley, Jordan is mainly desert composed of either basalt or Hammada; a striking ecologically-rich ecosystem that is unique to Jordan and Syria. Furthermore, Jordan has some highly specialized habitats, the most noteworthy being the Dead Sea, in which surrounding communities are considered to be of global importance.

Mammals in Jordan

So far, 78 species of mammals have been recorded in Jordan (Amr. Z. 2000), belonging to 7 orders and 26 families. These mammals are a major part of the biological pyramids that exist in Jordan. Some of these mammals are carnivores, meat-eaters, such as Striped Hyena, Wolf, Golden Jackal, and the different species of foxes and wildcats. Others are herbivores, plant eaters, such as the Nubian Ibex, Arabian Oryx, and the different gazelle species. Interestingly, the largest groups of mammals are the rodents and the bats which make up almost two-thirds of the mammals in Jordan.

Birds in Jordan

The 425 bird species recorded in Jordan belong to 58 families (Ian Andrews, 2000). Of which more than 300 are migrant, 95 are resident with definite breeding records, 111 are winter visitors, 202 are passage migrants, 81 are vagrants, and 63 are different summer visitors. Jordan hosts breeding populations for some globally threatened species including Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni) and Syrian Serin (Serinus syriacus). In addition to these, there are several globally threatened species that are recorded in Jordan at different times of the year. This includes Imperial Eagle, Palled Harried, Lesser Spotted Eagle and Sociable Lapwing. Fifteen bird species are threatened, while 21 are on the CITES appendices.

Books about the wildlife of Jordan

Birds of the Middle East (Helm Field Guides) The standard field guide

This is the first comprehensive field guide dealing exclusively with the birds of this region. It covers all the species, including vagrants, found in the Arabian peninsula (including Socotra), Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Cyprus. Over 700 species are described in concise text with full details of pulmage and voice. Distribution maps appear opposite the plates and are annotated with each species’ status and preferred habitat. This authoritative book will not only be an indispensable guide to the visiting birder, but also a vital tool for those engaged in work to conserve and study the avifauna of this region, which is of such importance to both the indigenous species and those which pass through on migration.