‘Son of mountains’ dedicates life to nature
Bülent Erkan is known as the “son of the mountains” for spending almost two decades trying to protect nature and photographing the wildlife. He has had a documentary about his life, which won numerous awards last year.
Living in the eastern province of Erzurum’s İspir district, Erkan, 37, first began hunting partridge, rabbit and fish after finishing primary school.
Having done his compulsory military service, Erkan continued hunting partridge in the mountains where his village Yedigöl is. But he quit hunting after he encountered the mountain goat, also known as chamois.
Approaching the animal from some three meters, Erkan saw the chamois with tears in its eyes and thought it was wrong to kill it. After that, he stopped hunting and dedicated his life to the mountains and the protection of wildlife.
Erkan’s life was featured in a documentary titled “Dağların Oğlu” (The Son of the Mountains), directed by Yavuz Selim Taşçıoğlu. He won the best documentary of the year award at a festival and won several other awards in international competitions.
Speaking to state-run Anadolu Agency, Erkan said he hunted since childhood until the age of 20. He said he was never able to complete school because of family problems.
“After primary school, I went hunting with neighborhood elders. Whatever they did, I did the same. After coming back from my military service, I earned the title ‘son of the mountains.’ One day when I targeted a chamois, I saw tears falling from its eyes. And I set it free. Then I quit hunting and dedicated my life to nature,” he said.
Erkan is now trekking mountains in pursue to protect natural life, leaving seeds for fish and planting trees.
“For about 17 years, I have been taking photos of bears. I made an aquarium in the village and am producing trout,” he said.
Erkan said that he has adapted to the mountain life.
“When I want to see a bear, I go see one and greet it. After stopping hunting, I started photographing the wildlife. I climbed up the Kaçkar, Verçenik, Ağrı and Palandöken mountains. There are very few mountains left that I haven’t seen,” he said.
Erkan has also received mountaineering and first aid trainings.
Despite facing opposition from his family, Erkan said he never gave up on living in the mountains.
“I go to my house once or twice a month to get food. The purpose of the documentary about my life is to raise awareness to protect living beings and respect them.”
The director of the documentary, Taşçıoğlu, said Erkan has put great efforts for years to protect nature.
“It is very beautiful that a person distances himself from the city life and dedicates his life to nature. We wanted to show this, for him to get national support and raise awareness on nature and wildlife. The film joined competitions in nearly 20 festivals in Turkey and abroad. It won the first prize in three festivals, second prize in three festivals and jury special awards in five festivals. We represented Turkey and our documentary film in the most important festivals in Latvia, United States, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Germany and France,” Taşçıoğlu said.
By protecting nature and the wildlife, Erkan aims to leave a better planet for the future generations.