A devastating drought in Turkey has killed thousands of baby flamingos on the country's second-largest lake. The flamingo colony living in Lake Tuz had greatly suffered from the drought for the past two weeks when the drought caused the saline lake to become a cracked, desolated landscape.
A report from the Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion (TEMA) detailed the status of water demand that is drastically draining in Turkey. Environmentalists said that this devastating drought is due to climate change and agricultural irrigation methods that left some areas short of water.
What Happened to Lake Tuz?
Lake Tuz (literally translated as Salt Lake) was declared a UNESCO-protected area in 2000 to protect biological diversity and natural and cultural resources. It used to be filled with pink flamingos roosting in and drinking from the large body of water, according to Daily Mail. However, everything changed when the devastating drought hit turkey's second-largest lake.
Today, it is only filled with bones and feathers of dead baby flamingos and some clumps of salt. The once home to thousands of flamingos has become a cracked, desolated land.
In the past, a giant flamingo that produces up to 10,000 baby flamingos each year would flock on the lake that stretches for about 65 miles and is the second salt lake in Turkey and the world. But this year, only 5,000 baby flamingos were born, Gizmodo reported.
The lake is a tectonic depression in the central part of Turkey and gets its water from two major streams and ground and surface water. Its high salinity required three mines to extract the salt that makes up 63% of its supply.
The drone images of Lake Tuz right now are a stark departure from what it used to be before it was hit by the drought. From being swarmed by a riotous cluster of flamingos to becoming a dull, brown-gray where desiccated corpses of birds are scattered all across the lake.
Climate Change and Farming Practices are to Blame for the Dried Lake
Drone footage of the large saline water in Turkey showed what the past two weeks of drought have caused. Thousands of baby flamingos were now dead, and environmentalists blamed climate change and agricultural practices for it.
But Bekir Pakdemirli, Turkish Minister for Agriculture and Forestry, denied it due to agricultural irrigation. He stresses that the baby flamingos were still unable to fly, which led to them being left alone in a desolate wasteland without water while adults have fled to a more sustainable area.
"With less water and increased concentration ratio in the water, we observed deaths of flaminglets that were unable to fly," he told Reuters. "I want to stress that there is no direct or indirect connection between this incident and the wells in the area or the agricultural irrigation."
Pakdemerli added that necessary measures have already been implemented, although he did not elaborate on what specific measures there were. But environmentalist and wildlife photographer Fahri Tunc said that one of the major streams that provide water for Lake Tuz had been redirected for farming, which does not allow the water to flow from Konya to Lake Tuz.
By changing agricultural irrigation methods in the region, massive flamingo deaths will be stopped, said Dicle Tuba Kilic, the Turkish NGO the Nature Association president.
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