Field ornithologist Rachid El Khamlichi

By MaghrebOrnitho | 13 September 2011

Rachid El Khamlichi is an avid wildlife enthusiast and ornithologist who have a keen interest in the birds and wildlife of Morocco and especially of the Rif Mountains in the north.

He is an active member of associations in both shores of the Straight of Gibraltar: COCN (Colectivo Ornitologico Cigueña Negra, Tarifa, Spain) and ADEMN (Association pour le Développement et l’Environnement aux Montagnes du Nord, Chefchaouen, Morocco). He is also a member of “Protejamos Tetuan y Sus Alrededores” (Protesa/Ademn), which is a group active in the environmental awareness among the general public and schoolchildren, with the emphasis on taking the action themselves. He is also a member of GREPOM (Groupe de Recherche pour la Protection des Oiseaux du Maroc) since 2012.

His interest in nature and its conservation is shown (among other) in the active monitoring of birds and their habitats in Smir wetland, Oued el Maleh, Oued Martil wetland and surrounding areas. His long-term observations in these two wetlands were summarised in an article “Humedales marroquíes”, published in the multi-authored monograph about the coastal wetlands of the Strait of Gibraltar (Monográfico humedales costeros del Estrecho de Gibraltar), published in the ornithological magazine of COCN, Cazalla.

Recently, he has participated in a meeting about “El Voluntariado Ambiental dentro de la Reserva de la Biosfera Mediterráneo (España – Marruecos”, (Environmental Volunteering in the Mediterranean Biosphere Reserve (Spain – Morocco)) organised by Consejería de Medio Ambiente of the Junta de Andalucía. The destruction of Smir wetland was brought into the discussion again.

In Crónicas de un Pato (“Chronicles of a duck”) he speaks in the name of a duck that tells the sad story of the destruction of Smir wetland by the greed of the tourism developers. Please click through to see some beautiful photos, and unfortunately sad photos as well about Smir wetland and to read the “chronicles of the duck”.

Los habitantes desconocidos de Tetuán (“The unknown inhabitants of Tétouan”, in reference to birds) is a short video filmed by Rachid in 2010 at several locations (Martil, Jbel El Haouz and Smir wetland) around Tétouan in northern Morocco. The video featured many birds of the region. The aim of the video was to increase environmental awareness and education about the environmental problems of the region of Tétouan especially the destruction of Smir wetland and the pollution of Oued Martil.

Wildlife rehabilitation:

During his outing to the nature he encountered, on several occasions, injured and/or sick birds and other animals. In each case, he takes care of the animal until its recovery. After care and rehabilitation (which takes from days to weeks) he takes the birds back to nature to set them free. Here are some examples:

  • On his visit to Jbel Dersa (Tétouan) with Abdelhak Elbanak on 20 May 2011, he found a Black Kite (Milvus migrans) in a very poor state (it bleeds from the beak and the eyes, probably caused by poisoning in a rubbish dump). He took it at his house and treated him, within three days it was able to fly again.


Rachid El Khamlichi
Rachid examining a sick Black Kite (Milvus migrans) at Jbel Derssa, May 2011(Abdelhak Elbanak).
A sick Black Kite (Milvus migrans) at Jbel Derssa
A sick Black Kite (Milvus migrans) at Jbel Derssa, May 2011 (Rachid El Khamlichi).
  • On 6 June 2009, he found a Spanish-ringed female Black Kite (ring n° 7058297, Icona – Madrid) held by a person near Tétouan. The bird had difficulty flying, and was so weak that it could hardly move. During the rehabilitation, it started to take weight and to recover slowly. She was released on 16 august 2009 in a woodland near Oued el Maleh, Martil.


Rachid releases the Spanish-ringed Black Kite after its recovery.
Rachid releases the Spanish-ringed Black Kite after its recovery.


  • In May 2005, he found a broken-legged golden jackal (Canis aureus) in Jbel El Haouz near Tétouan, the accident was probably caused by shepherds. He rescued it and took it to a veterinary in Tangier where it was treated and his leg put in plaster. He took it to his house and after a longer period of recovery he released it in the same place where it was found.
golden jackal (Canis aureus)
The wounded and broken-legged golden jackal (Canis aureus) in Rachid’s house, 29 May
Rachid El Khamlichi treating the golden jackal (Canis aureus)
Rachid treating the golden jackal (Canis aureus) in his house, 29 May 2005.
golden jackal (Canis aureus)
A well recovered and healthy golden jackal (Canis aureus), 18 July 2005. Note also a spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo graeca) which was brought by Rachid in order to release it later.


Rachid’s papers: 
Amezian M., El Khamlichi R. & Elbanak A. 2012. Breeding of Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus in the mixed heronry adjacent to Smir marshes, northern Morocco. Alauda 80: 33-38. PDF
El Khamlichi R. 2011. Humedales marroquíes. In: Colectivo Ornitológico Cigüeña Negra (ed). Monográfico humedales costeros del Estrecho de Gibraltar. Cazalla (Revista ornitológica) 3: 41-48. PDF
El Khamlichi R. & Amezian M. 2010. Observations d’Océanites culblancs (Oceanodroma leucorhoa) sur la côte méditerranéenne marocaine. Go-South Bull. 7: 89-91. PDF


I first wanted to write about some of the raptors that Rachid helped and rehabilitated, and then thought that I should include some other information about his activities which are by no means complete. The updated list of papers can be found at his page here:

Mohamed Amezian

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