Thousands of baby flamingos died from drought at Turkey’s Lake Tuz

The remains of a flamingo that died of drought in Turkey's Lake Tuz, picture taken with drone, credit: Reuters
The remains of a flamingo that died of drought in Turkey's Lake Tuz, picture taken with drone, credit: Reuters

Thousands of baby flamingos have died at Turkey’s Lake Tuz in the past two weeks from a drought that environmentalists said resulted from climate change and agricultural watering methods. 

Drone footage of the large saline lake in Turkey’s central province of Konya showed dead baby flamingos lying partially buried in dried mud. 

Lake Tuz is home to a flamingo colony where up to 10,000 flamingos are born every year.

Turkish Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Bekir Pakdemirli, said around 1,000 birds were thought to have died but denied that agriculture was to blame.

“This is (pointing at a dry canal) the irrigation canal that comes from Konya. It needs to deliver water to Lake Tuz. As you can see, the water is not coming through. It stopped,” wildlife photographer and environmentalist Fahri Tunc told Reuters.

“They constructed berms to the front side of the canal. They are probably using it for irrigation (water for agriculture). The water that needs to be delivered to Lake Tuz is not released,” Tunc said. 

Tunc said only 5,000 eggs had hatched in the colony this year, and most of the chicks had died for lack of water on the partially dried lake. “This is a sin we are all committing,” he added.

Water shortage
In 2020, the annual water reserve in the province of Konya’s close basin was 4.5 billion cubic meters, while the consumption reached 6.5 billion cubic meters, Turkish environmental foundation TEMA found.

“We don’t have enough water neither for farmers nor for flamingos because we insist on doing irrigated agriculture here. How are we going to prevent the deaths of flamingos?” Dilce Tuba Kilic, president of the Doga nature association, said.

“There is only one way to do it, and that is to change our false agricultural irrigation policy,” she added.

Lake Tuz (Salt Lake) is one of the largest hypersaline lakes in the world. 

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