Tuz Lake hosts giant flamingo colony every year
AKSARAY - Anatolia News Agency
Flamingos that incubated in the Salt Lake broke a world record last year, according to officials. AA photoIn Tuz Gölü (Salt Lake), which provides much of Turkey’s salt but is currently at risk of drying out, 20,275 flamingo chicks were born in 2012. The colony, which chose the Lake in the central Anatolian province of Aksaray as its living and nesting area, contained the largest number of flamingos ever to be recorded in the world.
The Nature Association (Doğa Derneği) Director Engin Yılmaz said the number of flamingos had been decreasing in recent years due to the fact that areas of water had been swiftly drying out and losing their features. He said that the flamingo breeding colony was discovered in the end of 1960s, adding, “When the colony was discovered, its crowded population drew the whole world’s interest. The muddy area in the south of the lake is one of the most important breeding areas for flamingos in the whole Mediterranean Basin, and the largest one in Turkey. Besides Salt Lake, the only other area where flamingos regularly reproduce is Gediz Delta.”
Yılmaz said that the Nature Association had been regularly observing flamingo cubs and the environment since 2003, said the following: “The association experts are flying over the reproduction islands on the lake every year on a single engine aircraft. During these flights, lots of photos are taken with the support of Melih Özbek Digital Academy. Then these visuals are being analyzed with French Tour du Valat experts. In this way, the number of flamingos reproduced in the lake and babies born is determined. Thanks to this method, it is determined the effects of changing environmental conditions on their population.”
Yılmaz said that the number of areas, where flamingos incubate, decreased from seven to two, adding, “There were seven different water areas where flamingos were incubating in past years. But unfortunately five of these areas have dried out because of inadequate water policies or lost their features. Now the future of the flamingos heavily depends on the protection of Gediz Delta or Salt Lake’s water level.”
Yılmaz said that the number of flamingos changed according to the water situation of Salt Lake, and that there were sharp declines and increases in their number as a result of the fact that the water level of the lake changed according to seasonal rains because of bad water policies.
He said that flamingos that incubated in the Salt Lake in 2012 broke a world record. “The lake has been fed by heavy rains for the last four years and it affects the flamingo population. We counted 18,418 flamingo chicks in the lake in 2011, which was the highest number ever recorded in the West African and Mediterranean countries. It was 20,275 in 2012, the highest number ever recorded anywhere in the world. Salt Lake was home to more than 60,000 flamingos in 2012 and turned into a flamingo haven. At least 40,550 flamingos reproduced in the lake,” Yılmaz said, adding that all these things showed that the lake was a unique area that provided nesting and reproducing opportunities for tens of thousands of flamingos.
He said that the world record of flamingos in Salt Lake was very encouraging, but that past disasters should also be remembered. “A drought year caused flamingo chicks to die of thirst before they could fly. We witnessed it five years ago. We should protect this area and act to remove its problems. The projects implemented in the lake may negatively affect flamingos and the lake could turn into a flamingo grave.”