Lake Tuz in central Turkey has a huge flamingo colony that migrates and breeds in warm weather and feeds on algae in the shallow waters of the lake.
But this summer, wildlife photographer Fari Tunk’s usual brilliant sunset photo of a bird has replaced the tragic scene. Flamingo larvae and adult carcasses scattered on the cracked dry seabed.
Turkey’s second largest lake, the 1,665-square-kilometer lake, home to several bird species, has declined completely this year. According to experts, Zutze (Turkish salt lake) was the victim of decades of harmful agricultural policies that devastated the region due to climate change drought and depleted groundwater supply. ..
“There were about 5,000 young flamingos. They all died because there was no water,” said Tunc, who heads the regional association of the Turkish environmental group Doga Dernegi. “It was an incredibly bad scene. It’s not something I can erase from my life. I hope I’ll never come across a scene like this again.”
Some other Turkey Lakes have also been reduced to surprising levels due to dryness or low rainfall and unsustainable irrigation. Climate experts warn that the entire Mediterranean coast, including Turkey, is at risk of particularly severe drought and desertification.
At Lake Van, Turkey’s largest lake east of Turkey, fishing boats were unable to approach the dock last week after water fell to abnormal levels, HaberTurk TV reported. Levent Krnaz, a scientist at the Center for Climate Change Political Studies at Boğaziçi University, said: “For now, the situation is bad across Turkey.” A study by the University of Ege, Turkey, based on
satellite images, shows that the water level of Lake Tuz began to fall in 2000, according to Turkey’s state agency Anador. I am. Studies show that the lake has completely receded this year due to rising temperatures, increased evaporation and lack of rainfall.
The study also found that the groundwater level around Lake Tuz, a hypersaline lake in the provinces of Ankara, Konya and Aksaray in Turkey, has dropped sharply. The Konya basin in Central Anatolia, including Lake Tuz, was once known as the Turkish breadbasket. According to photographer Tunc, farms in the area are now growing profitable but water-intensive crops such as corn, sugar beet and alfalfa, depleting groundwater. Farmers dug thousands of unlicensed wells, and the streams that water the lake were dried up or diverted, he said.
environmental groups say poor government agricultural policies play an important role in the deterioration of Turkish lakes.
“If you don’t pay them enough, the farmers will plant everything that consumes a lot of water and make money with it, and you tell them that it is not allowed. If only, they wouldn’t vote for you in the next election, “Krunaz said. Overfishing of
groundwater also makes the area susceptible to the formation of sinkholes. Dozens of such depressions have been found in the Karapınar district of Konya, including what AP news journalists saw next to a freshly harvested alfalfa field.
Aksaray-born Tunc, 46, is saddened to think he can’t enjoy flamingos with his seven-month-old son, just like his 21-year-old son. But he is convinced that if the government quits water-intensive agriculture, Zutze could fill up again.
Climate scientist Krunaz is not optimistic.
“You keep telling people not to use groundwater for this agriculture, people are not listening. There are about 120,000 unlicensed wells in the area, all of which are as if they were that water. Pumps water as if it lasts forever, “Kurnaz said.
“But if you stand on a flat surface, it can rain as much as you like and you can’t replenish the groundwater in a short amount of time. It may take thousands of years to replenish the water table in Central Anatolia, “he added. Drought and flamingo death on Lake Tuz at
are just one of a series of ecological disasters that struck Turkey this summer and are believed to be partly due to climate change.
In July, a forest fire destroyed forests along the south coast of Turkey, killing eight people and fleeing thousands. A part of the country’s northern Black Sea coast was flooded, killing 82 people. Previously, a layer of marine mucus covered the Sea of ​​Marmara and threatened marine life due to rising temperatures and poor waste management.
Despite the first signing of the 2015 Paris Agreement, Turkey has withheld ratification until this month as it sought to reclassify as a developing country rather than a developed country in order to avoid stricter emission reduction targets. rice field. At the same time as ratification of the climate agreement, the Turkish legislature issued a statement denying the status of a developed country. In the town of Eskil near Lake
Tuzersee, farmer Cengiz Erkol, 54, checked the irrigation system in the fields where forage is grown.
“Water isn’t as strong and abundant as it used to be,” he said. “I have four children. The future doesn’t look good. Every year, it is worse than the previous year. ”