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02.Dec.2021
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Recently, we came across photos of Salt Lake, which used to be called "flamingo paradise" but now has thousands of dead flamingo cubs on it. Maybe it's time to put our sadness and anger aside and question and change the root cause of all this.

The Climate Crisis, Agricultural Policies, Salt Lake and What Happened to the Flamingos afterwards?

Salt Lake is the second largest lake in Turkey and the second saltiest lake in the world. Along with being a class A wetland, it is one of the richest lakes in Turkey in terms of bird existence and has been registered as a 1st-degree natural protected area. In addition to all these, Salt Lake is the most important hatching area for flamingos in our country and there are giant hatching colonies in the middle of the lake. It is known that over 10 thousand new flamingo cubs are born in Tuz Gölü every year.

So why did flamingo cubs die in “flamingo paradise”?

Salt Lake is a closed lake with no outflow and its nutritional resources are also extremely poor. Over the years, various interventions have been made to the already weak water resources that feed the lake. The dams, ponds, and dams built by the farmers to irrigate their fields left Salt Lake largely without water. 

“According to the 2008 data of the State Hydraulic Works (DSI), there are approximately 94 thousand underground water wells, 27 thousand 140 of which are licensed and 66 thousand 808 illegal, in the Konya Closed Basin, while the number of wells has reached 140 thousand today. Only a quarter of them (approximately 35 thousand) are licensed, the rest are operated illegally. It is not known how much water they consume and how they irrigate. ”1

Is the climate crisis the cause of all this?

It is an undeniable fact that we experience the frightening consequences of the climate crisis every day. Sudden weather changes, drought, floods, disasters, etc. We witness climate events all over the world. It has been claimed that the only reason for the flamingo deaths in Salt Lake is the climate crisis, namely drought in this direction.

The climate crisis is not the only culprit.

It is a fact that the climate crisis has caused an increase in temperature, and accordingly drought, and we know that this is one of the reasons for the thirst in Salt Lake, but the climate crisis is not the only reason.

Believing that only the climate crisis is the cause of these events; It is unacceptable to ignore that the unconscious, disproportionate and uncontrolled use of groundwater, and at this point, the wrong agricultural and irrigation policies are among the most important causes of thirst in Tuz Gölü, that is, flamingo deaths.

The water wells drilled and the dams established in the basin due to the increased and state-supported irrigated agricultural products have reduced the water rate in the basin by almost half in recent years, and with the climate crisis added to this, Salt Lake has been left to drought, and flamingos and other living creatures that are the inhabitants of Salt Lake have been left to thirst. . The right to life of flamingos and other creatures was left to the rain and the mercy of people.

So what we should do?

The consequences of wrong agriculture and irrigation policies and not taking the climate crisis seriously are obvious. Water is not just a resource to be consumed, it is an asset to be protected. It is imperative that a planned agricultural policy and irrigation systems be established urgently. We have to accept that water is not only for humans, but is a necessary and protected asset for the survival of all living things, and we have to carry out policies in this context. We should bring back our wetlands and take steps that address people and nature together.

Why couldn't the Animal Rights Law, which is said to have been enacted recently (!) to protect the right to life, not protect the flamingos? How will the people and institutions that cause the death of flamingos be held to account or will they be held accountable before the judiciary? Let's not forget that we will follow all these and we will not leave you unaware of the process.

1From the press release made by 51 NGOs on flamingo deaths in Tuz Lake

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