The Aïr Mountains (also known as the Aïr Massif or Air of Niger; the name is Ayăr in Tuareg and Azbin /Abzin in eastern / western Hausa) is a triangular massif, located in northern Niger, within the Sahara desert. Part of the West Saharan montane xeric woodlands ecoregion, they rise to more than 6,000 ft (1 830 m) and extend over 84 000 km². Lying in the midst of desert north of the 17th parallel, the Aïr plateau, with an average altitude between 500 and 900 m, forms an island of Sahel climate which supports a wide variety of life, many pastoral and farming communities, and dramatic geological and archaeological sites. There are notable archaeological excavations in the region that illustrate the prehistoric past of this region. The endangered Painted Hunting Dog, Lycaon pictus once existed in Air of Niger region, but may now be extirpated due to human population pressures in this region.