Turkey’s poor agricultural policy has killed thousands of baby flamingos, environmentalists say

Due to poor projects implemented in Turkey’s Great Lakes, local flamingos have lost many of their natural habitats in the country over the past 70 years, during which time Turkey has lost over 60% of its natural habitat. its wetlands, 51 environmental and conservation organizations said in a statement. Friday.

The habitats of Lake Seyfe, Ereğli Swamp, Sultan’s Swamp, Karapınar and Acıgöl Plains have already been irrevocably lost, and only Salt Lake and Gediz Delta remain, according to the statement released by the newspaper. Evrensel.

Salt lake (“Tuz Gölü”) is the second largest lake in Turkey and one of the largest hypersaline lakes in the world.

Most of the more than 350,000 hectares of the closed Konya Basin in central Anatolia have dried up and the Ereğli swamps have shrunk to some 250 hectares from 21,000 previously, the organizations said.

“Protecting the last of Turkey’s wetlands must be our priority,” they said. “Otherwise, we will inevitably lose Salt Lake and other important bodies, as well as the tens of thousands of animals that live there. “

The statement came after nature photographer Fahri Tunç last week documented thousands of baby flamingos dead along the salt lake’s remote shore. Northern Forests Defense, an advocacy group for the remaining forest lands of the Turkish megalopolis of Istanbul, said the mass deaths had occurred due to the cutting of rivers feeding the lake to be used for the irrigation.

Some 5,000 baby flamingos are estimated to have died at Salt Lake this year as the birds lay their eggs along their migratory route, BBC Turkish reported on Wednesday. The Department of the Environment recorded 20,381 flamingo outbreaks in 2019 in the region.

The waters receded up to 1.5 kilometers, Tunç told the BBC. The photographer believes that this year’s lack of rainfall, combined with what he calls “wild irrigation”, has caused the drastic lack of water for all the animals around the lake.

The state’s hydraulic works should have protected the lake, Tunç said. Instead, farmers completely cutting off waterways to direct incoming water to their crops were given a free pass.

Salt Lake is a first degree protected natural site and as such no activity should be allowed which could damage the environment and the landscape in and around it.

“There have already been deaths of flamingos in this region,” Nature association president Tuğba Kılıç told Voice of America on Wednesday. “Why? Because even though there is little water that year, we do not plan our agriculture accordingly, and therefore the water is not sufficient for both agriculture and the flamingos. and other wild animals.

Agriculture Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said the deaths were due to increased salt concentration in the lake’s waters due to evaporation. “I would like to say that the issue is not directly or indirectly related to wells and irrigation in the region,” the minister told reporters.

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