"I if we were in this place a few years ago, water would get to your armpits, "says veterinarian Isa Agit, standing on sun-hardened, cracked mud that was once part of a lake in the east of Turkey , with his hands tightly wrapped around a long-legged hawk." It's the last of the flamingos out there, "he adds, pointing to what's left of the lake in the village of Enginsu - a piece of water barely visible in the distance.
For the past 50 years, 60% of the 300 natural lakes of Turwhich have dried up and the loss is devastating to birds and other wildlife. Declining rainfall, rising temperatures, mismanagement of public land and poor farming practices have caused water levels to recede, even in the second largest lake in the Middle East, Lake Van, as far away as possible. '200 meters away.
Migratory birds have been particularly affected by the change - Between 3,000 and 5,000 young flamingos starved to death in July after the waters of Lake Tuz, in the Konya Basin of central Anatolia, receded too far for them to be able to use. reach the shore from their nests. The impact on ecosystems has also caused massive death of gulls and birds of prey get sick from infections caused by the sea.r changes in their diet.
Acts, who works at Yuzuncu Yıl The target of the university Wild Animal Protection and Rehabilitation Center in the town of Van, said this year's fish migration lasted two and a half months - half of its usual duration - due to lack of rain. As a result, gulls and other birds have turned to consuming unnatural foods such as garbage and dead animals, which can ultimately kill them due to parasites.
" Birds don 't have enough food, so some attack each other, "Agit explains. " Hawks and eagles usually do not eat crows , but now they do and sometimes they carry tick diseases, which can be deadlles. "
He prepares to release the long-legged hawk, whose wing was injured in a fight with others birds for food - she couldn't hunt and was starving before she was brought to Agit at the rehabilitation center.
Now fit and healthy , Agit holds the bird in the air before releasing it. It flies off to the last part of the lake, flying over dry ground strewn with bird bones. "Two years ago , that mud wasn 't there and it was all wet ", explains Agit.
Professor Loğman Aslan, director of the center, says the stress was also a factor in bird deaths. Declining food sources and changes in the natural environment were stressing the animals and making them more susceptible to pests. Other experts blamed emissions from coal-fired power plants as a problem. contributing factor - Turquie is one of the main contributors to air pollution levels in Europe.