Time Running Out For Many Bird Species in Turkey
Dozens of starlings in the Karacabey district of Turkey's Bursa province were among the victims of a recent spate of mass animal deaths around the world that initially provoked much international alarm. But though scientists have emphasized such incidents are not a sign of broader dangers, plenty of real threats face many of the hundreds of bird species in Turkey.According to a biology professor at Hacettepe University in the capital city of Ankara, more than half of the 437 bird species that are regularly found in Turkey are at serious risk.
"Ninety-five species will see significant decreases in their numbers, while 101 species face possible extinction," Professor İlhami Kiziroğlu, the head of the university's Environmental Education and Bird Research Center, told the state-run Anatolia news agency recently.
Bird Populations In Turkey Have Decreased By Half
"The other 65 species [out of the 502 identified in Turkey] are seen only at certain times. They do not reproduce in Turkey and they cannot be observed very often. However, of the 437 species, the Oriental darter and bald ibis have already disappeared from the natural habitat in Turkey," Kiziroğlu said, adding that total bird populations in the country have decreased by half over the past two decades.
Both migratory and endemic species that rely on Turkey's wetlands face the most immediate threats, the Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman reported:
The Oriental darter is a species that once nested around Lake Amik in Hatay; however, they have not been observed in the region since the lake dried up in the 1960s. "This species has now disappeared in Turkey. It was seen for the last time in 1963," Kiziroğlu said. He said the last time [wild] bald ibises were observed in Turkey was when three were found in Şanlıurfa's Birecik district in 1988.
Dams And Agriculture Pose Big Threat
Inefficient agricultural irrigation and draw-offs for the increasing number of hydroelectric dams in the country are among the factors drying up important wetlands in Turkey.
"One-seventh of the European population of the white-headed duck exists in Turkey, spending winters in Lake Burdur in the Mediterranean region. However, this species is threatened by the level of industrial waste and the decreasing water levels in the lake," Kiziroğlu said, adding that bird populations around the lake are also threatened by flights from the nearby airport in Isparta.
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