Centers formed to protect wildlife animals impacted by wildfires
Türkiye has decided to establish centers to protect and rehabilitate wildlife animals following the wildfires in the Aegean province of Muğla’s Marmaris district, said Hüseyin Gökçe Meşe, an official from the Nature Conservation and National Parks (DKMP).
The centers established in 11 provinces, including the northwestern province of Bursa, the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, and the central Anatolian province of Konya, will be used for the treatment and rehabilitation of wild animals in need, until they are released back to their natural habitat, Meşe added.
“The areas burned in the wildfires were the habitats of caracals, brown bears, wolves and otters,” he said.
The number of caracals, whose habitat has been destroyed, is around 2,000-2,500 throughout the country, according to Meşe. “Every area where they are seen is important. It is in the ‘least concern’ group at the global level, but in the ‘critically endangered’ status at the Mediterranean scale.”
The official also pointed out that the brown bear is in the status of “vulnerable” in the Mediterranean region and stated that Muğla is one of the rare regions in the world where the brown bear lives in red pine forests.
“60 percent of the area in the Bördübet region [near Marmaris on the Aegean Sea coast], which is 3,433 hectares in size, was completely burned,” said Meşe, adding that tortoises, snakes and badgers were also affected by the fire.
“After the assessments, rehabilitation strategies will be developed according to the target species.”
“The data from the past years will also be evaluated, and decisions will be made such as which areas should be worked with machinery and which areas should be left to their natural state,” he said, reiterating that the forest administration should carry out forestation work in areas where there is no animal existence.
“The regions where caracal is seen intensely should be left to its natural state and let the forest cover the area,” Meşe said. “The caracal will come back to this area, as partridges and rabbits, which are the most important food source of caracals, will settle.”
The final decision should be made in line with the result of the report to be prepared as a result of the joint work of experts from different branches, according to Meşe.
Some 4,500 hectares of green lands have been turned to ashes by the wildfires that took five days of massive efforts, in the Bördubet region, before being put out completely.
The blaze erupted on June 21 and spread rapidly, blackening swathes of pine forest and driving hundreds of people from their homes.
An estimated 4,000 hectares (nearly 9,900 acres) of forest was affected by the fire. Reforestation efforts would begin as soon as possible, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said.
The arsonist who started the wildfires was detained late on June 23 and arrested early June 24.
The 34-year-old, Sacit Ayhan, admitted that he started the fires after getting furious about a “commercial dispute inside the family.”