Map of Wadi al MujibWadi Al Mujib, historically known as Arnon, is a gorge in Jordan which enters the Dead Sea at 410 meters below sea level. The Mujib Reserve of Wadi Al Mujib is the lowest nature reserve in the world, located in the mountainous landscape to the east of the Dead Sea, approximately 90 km south of Amman. The 220 square kilometers reserve was created in 1987 by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature and is regionally and internationally important, particularly for the bird life that the reserve supports. It extends to the Kerak and Madaba mountains to the north and south, reaching 900 meters above sea level in some places.Wadi Al Mujib

ABSTRACT
A large part of Central Jordan is drained by the Wadi el-Mujib basin. This river developed a deep canyon through the Moab plateau, the eastern shoulder of
wadi-al-mujib-canyon-Jordanthe Dead Sea Rift. Intense subsidence of the base level at the Dead Sea is the main cause for the high rate of Pliocene/Pleistocene fluvial incision along the lower reaches of the Mujib basin.
During this phase of accelerated incision the wadis were submitted to the presence of a dense fault net in the canyon area. The directions of the thalwegs correspond well with the apparent directions of the faults, indicating that fluvial incision occurred preferentially along tectonic lines characterized by rock weakness and discontinuity. Major convex knickpoints along the longitudinal profiles are caused by normal fault movement or due to the delay in headward erosion with respect to the main or local base level. Minor knickpoints correspond usually to differences in rock resistance.Wadi Al Mujib
Climatic changes seem to be the principal cause for several types of Pleistocene deposits in the canyon but tectonic influence often played an additional role. Flash floods drive the principal incision events that result in effective erosion in the present dry semi-arid climate.


Wadi Al mujib - JordanWadi Al Mujib

This 1,300 meter variation in elevation, combined with the valley’s year round water flow from seven tributaries, means that Wadi Al Mujib enjoys a magnificent biodiversity that is still being explored and documented today. Over 300 species of plants, 10 species of carnivores and numerous species of permanent and migratory birds have been recorded until this date. Some of the remote mountain and valley areas are difficult to reach, and thus offer safe havens for rare species of cats, goats and other mountain animals.

During the last Ice Age the water level of the Dead Sea reached 180 m below sea level, about 230 m higher than it is today. It flooded the lower areas of the canyons along its banks, which became bays and begun to accumulate sediments. As the climatic conditions changed, about 20,000 years ago, the water level of the lake dropped, leaving the re-emergent canyons blocked with lake marl. Most canyons managed to cut through their plugged outlets and to resume their lower courses. However, Wadi Al Mujib, the biblical Arnon River, abandoned its former outlet by breaking through a cleft in the sandstone. This narrow cleft became the bottleneck of an enormously large drainage basin with a huge discharge. During the years the cleft was scoured deeper and the gorge of Wadi Mujib was formed.Wadi Al Mujib

Wadi al MujibThe Mujib reserve in Wadi Al Mujib consists of mountainous, rocky, and sparsely vegetated desert (up to 800 m), with cliffs, gorges and deep wadis cutting through plateaus. Perennial, spring-fed streams flow down the wadis to the shores of the Dead Sea which lies 400 m below sea-level.Wadi Al Mujib
The slopes of the mountainous land are very sparsely vegetated, with a steppe-type vegetation on plateaus. Groundwater seepage does occur in places along the Dead Sea shore, for example at the hot springs of Zara, which support a luxuriant thicket of Acacia, Tamarix, Phoenix and Nerium, and a small marsh. The less severe slopes of the reserve are used by pastoralists for the grazing of sheep and goats.Wadi Al Mujib
The hot springs of Hammamat Ma’in lie close to the borders of the reserve are heavily used for tourism/recreation.Wadi Al Mujib
A large dam was recently finished at the bottom of the wadi, where the modern road crosses the river. As a result, a large lake has formed. Today, Wadi Al Mujib is fed by seven tributaries.Wadi Al Mujib
As well as resident birds, the reserve is strategically important as a safe stop-over for the huge number of birds which fly annually along the rift valley between Africa & northeast Europe. It is possible to see the following :

Birds in Wadi Al Mujib

Wadi Al Mujib

Lammergeier
Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus) Wadi Al MujibA bird of prey, and the only member of the genus Gypaetus. Traditionally considered an Old World vulture, it actually forms a minor lineage of Accipitridae together with the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), its closest living relative. It is not much more closely related to the Old World vultures proper than to, for example, hawks, and differs from the former by its feathered neck. Although dissimilar, the Egyptian and bearded vulture each have a lozenge-shaped tail – unusual among birds of prey.
Egyptian Vulture
Wadi Al Mujib - Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) A small Old World vulture and the only member of the genus Neophron. It is widely distributed; the Egyptian vulture is found from southwestern Europe and northern Africa to India. The contrasting underwing pattern and wedge-shaped tail make it distinctive in flight as it soars in thermals during the warmer parts of the day. Egyptian vultures feed mainly on carrion but are opportunistic and will prey on small mammals, birds, and reptiles. They also feed on the eggs of other birds, breaking larger ones by tossing a large pebble onto them.
Eurasian Griffon
Eurasian griffon (Gyps fulvus) Wadi Al MujibA large Old World vulture in the bird of prey family Accipitridae.
In the nominate race the males weigh 6.2 to 10.5 kg (14 to 23 lb) and females typically weigh 6.5 to 11.3 kg (14 to 25 lb), while in the Indian subspecies (G. f. fulvescens) the vultures average 7.1 kg (16 lb). Extreme adult weights have been reported from 4.5 to 15 kg (9.9 to 33.1 lb), the latter likely a weight attained in captivity. Hatched naked, it is a typical Old World vulture in appearance, with a very white head, very broad wings and short tail feathers.
Levant Sparrowhawk
Wadi Al Mujib - Levant sparrowhawk (Accipiter brevipes) A small bird of prey in the family Accipitridae which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as eagles, buzzards and harriers.
It breeds in forests from Greece and the Balkans east to southern Russia. It is migratory, wintering from Egypt across to southwestern Iran. It will migrate in large flocks, unlike the more widespread Eurasian sparrowhawk.
The Levant sparrowhawk nests in trees, building a new nest, lined with green leaves, each year. The normal clutch is 3-5 eggs. It hunts small birds, insects and lizards in woodland, relying on surprise as it flies from a perch to catch its prey unaware.
Lesser Kestrel
Lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni) Wadi Al MujibA small falcon. This species breeds from the Mediterranean across southern central Asia to China and Mongolia. It is a summer migrant, wintering in Africa and Pakistan and sometimes even to India and Iraq. It is rare north of its breeding range, and declining in its European range. The scientific name of this bird commemorates the German naturalist Johann Andreas Naumann.
Sooty falcon
 Wadi Al Mujib - Sooty falcon (Falco concolor)A medium-sized falcon breeding from northeastern Africa to the southern Persian Gulf region. It belongs to the hobby group, a rather close-knit number of similar falcons often considered a subgenus Hypotriorchis. Eleonora’s Falcon is sometimes considered its closest relative, but while they certainly belong to the same lineage, they do not seem to be close sister species.
This is an elegant bird of prey, 32–37 cm long with a 78–90 cm wingspan. It is shaped like a large Hobby or a small Eleonora’s Falcon, with its long pointed wings, long tail and slim body.
Sand partridge
Sand partridge (Ammoperdix heyi) Wadi Al MujibA gamebird in the pheasant family Phasianidae of the order Galliformes, gallinaceous birds. This partridge has its main native range from Egypt and Israel east to south Arabia. It is closely related and similar to its counterpart in southeast Turkey and east to Pakistan, the see-see partridge, Ammoperdix griseogularis.
This 22–25 cm bird is a resident breeder in dry, open and often hilly country. It nests in a scantily lined ground scrape laying 5-7 eggs. The sand partridge takes a wide variety of seeds and some insect food.
The sand partridge is a rotund bird, mainly sandy-brown with wavy white and brown flank stripes. The male has a grey head with a white stripe in front of the eye and a white cheek patch. The neck sides are plain, and not speckled with white.
Hume's Owl
Hume's owl (Strix butleri) Wadi Al MoujibA species of owl. As its alternative name implies, it is closely related to the more widespread Tawny Owl.
This species is a part of the larger grouping of owls known as typical owls, Strigidae, which contains most species of owl. The other grouping is the barn owls, Tytonidae.
Hume’s Owl breeds in Syria, Israel, northeast Egypt and the Arabian peninsula. Its habitat is palm groves, desert, semi-desert and rocky ravines. It nests in crevices and holes in cliffs. Its diet consists of voles, mice and large insects.
Hooded Wheatear
Hooded wheatear (Oenanthe monacha) Wadi Al mUjibA wheatear, a small insectivorous passerine that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but is now more generally considered to be an Old World flycatcher, Muscicapidae.
This 15.5–17 cm long bird is a resident breeder in unvegetated desert from eastern Egypt through the Arabian peninsula used to be in UAE and Oman a scarce breeder in Hajar mountains to Iran and Pakistan. It has occurred as a wanderer to Cyprus. The nest is built in a rock crevice, and 3-6 eggs is the normal clutch.
In summer the male hooded wheatear is a white and black bird. The white crown and belly contrast with the black face, back and throat.
Blackstart
Blackstart (Cercomela melanura) Wadi Al MujibA bird found in desert regions in North Africa, the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula.
It is a 14–16 cm long bird named for its black tail, which is frequently fanned; the rest of its plumage is bluish-grey or grey-brown (North African races being browner, Middle Eastern races bluer). The sexes are similar, but the male on average has blacker lores. The song is a clear melancholy whistle: CHURlee…TRUloo…CHURlee…TRUlur…, with short phrases from the song used as a call.
Arabian Babbler
Arabian babbler (Turdoides squamiceps) Wadi Al MujibA passerine bird belonging to the genus Turdoides. It is a communally nesting resident bird of arid scrub in the Middle East which lives together in relatively stable groups with strict orders of rank.
The Arabian Babbler prefers to settle along dry river beds with few trees and bushes. It is found in eastern, southern and western Arabia, occurring in the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen and western Saudi Arabia but absent from the central and north-eastern parts of the peninsula. Its range extends north to Jordan, Israel and eastern Sinai.
Striolated Bunting
Striolated bunting (Emberiza striolata) Wadi Al MujibA passerine bird in the bunting family Emberizidae, a group now separated by most modern authors from the finches, Fringillidae.
It is 14 cm long, similar in size to the House Bunting and smaller than the similarly plumaged Rock Bunting. The breeding male has a chestnut body, and grey head with darker streaking and a white supercilium and moustachial streak. The female’s head has a brown tint to the grey, and more diffused streaking.
Trumpeter Finch
Trumpeter finch (Bucanetes githagineus) Wadi Al MUjibA small passerine bird in the finch family Fringillidae.
This bird breeds in the Canary Islands, across north Africa, and in the Middle East and into central Asia. There is a small European population in southern Spain. Many birds are largely resident, but there is post-breeding dispersal, and some Asian breeders migrate into Pakistan for the winter.
In the summer of 2005 there was a notable eruption of this species into northwestern Europe, with several birds reaching as far as England.
Stony desert or semi-desert is favoured for breeding. Four eggs are laid in a nest in a rock crevice.
This gregarious terrestrial finch’s food is mainly seeds, and, particularly in the breeding season, insects.
Dead Sea Sparrow
Dead Sea sparrow (Passer moabiticus) Wadi Al MoujibA breeding bird around the River Jordan, Dead Sea, and into Iraq, Iran and western Afghanistan. Breeding recorded in Cyprus (1981/1982) but is probably extinct there now. It is migratory or dispersive, although the regular wintering grounds of this nomadic species are largely unknown, except that the eastern race winters in Pakistan. Flocks of the nominate western race have been found in winter further south in the Middle East.
It is a small 12–13 cm long sparrow which breeds in dry lowlands with some shrubs, including tamarisk, and access to water. It builds a nest in a tree, and 4-7 eggs are laid.
Tristram's starling
Tristram's starling (Onychognathus tristramii) Wadi Al MujibA species of starling native to Israel, Jordan, northeastern Egypt (Sinai Peninsula), western Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Oman, nesting mainly on rocky cliff faces. The species is named after Reverend Henry Baker Tristram, who also collected natural history specimens.
It is gregarious and noisy, with a call that resembles a wolf whistle. They are omnivorous, feeding on fruit and invertebrates, and can also be observed grooming Nubian ibex and domestic livestock for parasites.
Wadi Al Mujib
Wadi Al mujib - Wonders Travel and Tourism

Many carnivores also inhabit the various vegetation zones in Wadi Al Mujib, such as the Caracal cat, striped hyena and the Syrian wolf. One of the most important animals in Wadi Al Mujib is the Nubian ibex, a large mountain goat which became threatened as a result of over-hunting.

Wadi Al Mujib