Eastern Turkish bird sanctuary threatened due to drought

Eastern Turkish bird sanctuary threatened due to drought

KARS – Doğan News Agency
Eastern Turkish bird sanctuary threatened due to drought

Lake Kuyucuk and the wetlands in its surroundings hots a research center on birds of international importance. DHA Photo

The bird sanctuary of Kuyucuk in the northeastern province of Kars is facing a severe drought that is threatening the ecosystem of the wetland area, which is one of the most important stops for migratory birds across the country

Lake Kuyucuk is the first habitat in eastern Anatolia that became part of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. The area, which sheltered over 40,000 birds 10 years ago, has only hosted 17 ducks this year.

Experts argue that rather than global warming, it’s the authorities’ negligence to be blamed for the deterioration of the situation.

Çağan Şekercioğlu, a renowned scholar, photographer and environmental activist, said the over exploitation of the waters for livestock had ended up draining the wetland.

“The water level, which was of 13 meters in 1997, has decreased every year due to inappropriate use. There are around 6,000 animals in the lake’s surroundings. Half of them are bovine and the other half are ovine cattle. They graze near the lake all of the time. We have warned the authorities for years to draw attention to that matter. But nobody cared and what we had feared has ended up happening,” said Şekercioğlu.

He nevertheless said there was still a chance to save the lake if the necessary measures are taken. “Otherwise, this dried up lake will become Turkey and Kars’ shame,” Şekercioğlu said.

The lake, which is fed by the Arpaçay River that separates Turkey and Armenia, hosts one of the most important research centers on birds in the country, with a number of foreign experts that contribute to the work. Thousands of birds have been tagged by experts over the last seven years to track their course and observe their behavior.