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Biosphere Reserves in Algeria: Tassili N’Ajer – Illizi and Tamanghasset

28 12 2020





Geographic locations and surface areas

* Location: Latitude 23° 00’ to 26° 50’N/ Longitude 05° 20’ to 12° 00’ E

* Altitude: ±1.150 to 2.158 metres

* Total Area: 7,200.000 hectares





* RAMSAR site 2001

* UNESCO Biosphere Reserve 1986

* UNESCO World Heritage Site 1982






Tassili N’Ajjer plateau, located in south eastern Algeria, is well known for holding remains of rock paintings preserved in the prehistoric caves wich tell the story of human life in the African Sahara between 6.000 BC and the first century. The biosphere reserve locared in the Central Sahara desert, covers seven million two hundred thousand (7.200.000) hectares. It features stunning landscape drawn with eroded sandstone rocks intercepted by sandy plains and dunes. The Wadis in the biosphere reserve harbor relics of the famous emblematic tree species, the Saharan cypress (Cupressus dupreziana). These isolated old specimens of trees are witnesses to the damper climate that reigned in the old times. The reserve hosts the Ihrir Oasis RAMSAR site and the intangible world heritage in Sabbiba and Emzad. Nearby Tassili N’Ajer lies the Ahaggar Cultural Park located in the Hoggar Massif in the exterme south of Algeria. The park is recognized as the second largest national park in the country covering four million five hundred thousand (4.500.000) hectares. It features invaluable archaeological and historical diversity while hosting archaeological sites ranging from six hundred thousand (600.000) to one million (1.000.000) years old.








The Tassili N’Ajjer plateau stretches over a huge area with elevation ranges between one thousand five hundred (1.500) and one thousand eight hundred (1.800) meters altitude. Despite the aridity of the environment in the biosphere reserve, the site hosts remains of notable plant and animal speices of Mediterranean origin in the ecological niches undergoing sub-arid microclimate. One can find the endemic Saharan cypress or ‘tarout’ (Cupressus dupreziana), wild olive (Olea europaea) and myrtle (Myrtus nivellei). Besides, the biosphere reserve hosts deep gorges (wadis), waterholes (gueltas), rocky and sandy terrains, rivers, agroecosystem and rangelands. The ancient artwork in the caves reflects the preexisting fauna speices among which are the hippopotamus and buffalo. The biosphere reserve preserves populations of endangered, vulnerable and common animal speices such as Dorcas gazella (Gazella dorcas), cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), fennec fox (Vulpus zerda), Rüppel’s fox (Vulpes rueppellii), Arabian camel (Camelus dromedarius) and Mzab gundi (Massoutiera mzabi). It nestles the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) and Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) among many other raptors and bird species.







People and plants


The nomadic communities still refer to the traditional knowledge on the use of medicinal and aromatic plants. The biosphere reserve hosts eighty (80) plants which are use by the locals for theire medicinal and culinary properties, such as the kapok bush (Aerva javanica) locally known as ‘temakarkezt’ and used as soap the edible Asphodelus enuifolius, locally named ‘izayane’. The Eruca vesicaria, known by the locals as ‘tanakfayt’, and Teucrium helichrysoides (Diels), locally known as ‘tikmzzutin’, are referred to for both medicinal and aromatic properties.

Other wild plants with medecinal properties are the fragrant oxeye (Nauplitus graveolens), named ‘tafsa’ in Arabic and locally ‘amayu’, the endemic wooly cumin (Ammmodaucus leucotrichus), locally known as ‘akamen’, sage species (Salvia chudaei), locally named ‘abhihaw’, Artemisia judaica locally known as ‘teharaggale’, camel grass (Cymbopogon schoenanthus ), locally named ‘tebaremt’ and Haplophyllum tuberculatum, locally called ‘tufishkan’.







Locals and Tassili N’Ajjer biosphere reserve


The biosphere reserve domain still hots sedentary and nomadic indigenous community named Tuaregs with around one thousand (1.000) to three thousand (3.000) people. The reserve encompasses the villages of Djanet, Illizi, Bordj Elhaoues and Ihrir, and Tuaregs, which rely on pastoralism and agriculture and, more recently, tourism.






Research and Development


Since 1924, Tassili N’Ajjer has attracted scholars and researchers. The monitoring of plants and animals species seem to be taking the lead in research agendas targeting cheetah, endemic cypress, acacia, Dorcas gazelle and Barbary sheep.






 Image de prévisualisation YouTube




















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