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Aves, 45/2 | 2008 | 93-103

  Wintering Common Cranes (Grus grus) in the wetland complex of Hauts Plateaux (East Algeria)
Houhamdi, M., Hafid, H., Seddik,S., Bouzegag, A., Nouidjem, Y., Bensaci, T., Maazi, M.-C. & Saheb, M.

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Article summary

The complex of the wetlands situated in the hauts plateaux of eastern Algeria, is dominated by a semiarid climate and composed of about fifteen stretches of wetland of which five have international importance (Ramsar sites) and a suitable wintering district for the Common Crane Grus grus. These adopt a rather particular strategy of wintering by using Garaet Tarf (25500 ha) as a sleeping area. This east edge complex however represents the spacious wetland of this area. At daybreak, the majority of the Common Cranes (73 to 84 %) leave this wetland water to search for food. Their choice is not very diversified owing to the fact that most of the area is planted in cereals (wheat, Triticum durum and barley, Hordeum vulgare). Thus these Commons Cranes disperse in three principals direction: 54.40 % take off to the West in direction of the other wetlands of the complex, 27.10 % towards the South and 18.50% towards North. It seems however that the Eastern area which is dominated by the forests of Hraktas (forests of holm oak Quercus ilex and Alep pine Pinus alpensis) and occupied by smalls agglomerations is not a preferential destination of these large waders. We followed up closely these populations since their arrival in mid-October until their total disappearance from the area during March over six consecutive wintering seasons (from 2001-2002 to 2006-2007) enabled us to underline a brutal recrudescence of their population. These decreases are mainly due to the early draining and the very late setting in water of these wetlands. This is the consequence of the modification work carried out since 2003 in order to promote more intensive agriculture in the hauts plateaux.

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