Near Konya, in central Turkey, the country’s second-largest salt lake has almost completely dried up. This is due to climate change and intensive water use in agriculture in that region.
The lake is the breeding ground of immense colonies of flamingos, which are now dying in large numbers from the drought.
The salt lake, with an area of 1,665 square kilometres, has turned into a dry plain. In some places are the dried carcasses of flamingos, both adults and chicks. This is evident from the photos of the local nature photographers Fahri Tunç and Erdem Zengin, who have regularly taken pictures of the salt lake and the birds that have lived there for years. Tunç took this photo in July, usually when thousands of birds settle on the lake:
The flamingos have used the lake as a breeding ground for centuries. The surface water was full of algae, and that was an ideal food for the animals. In addition to the flamingos, dozens of other bird species lived on the lake.
“We are dealing with increasingly higher temperatures, which means more and more evaporation on the surface of the lake. In addition, we use far too much groundwater for irrigation and agriculture, so that the lakes are not replenished in this way either,” says Kurmaz. “We see this problem not only here but at lakes all over Turkey.”
According to Kurmaz, the political system is at the root of the problem. “If farmers don’t earn enough, they will sow high-yielding crops that often require a lot of water,” he says. “And if you tell them as a government that you can’t do that, you will lose votes in the next elections. So it is not one party that is responsible; it is the entire political system.”