Help us tackle illegal killing of migratory birds in Turkey!

(Zeynep Karasin, 1 Mar 2017)

Every year approximately 6.5 million soaring birds migrate between Europe, Asia and Africa using two major flyways crossing Anatolia. 2 million storks and raptors fly over İstanbul while 1.2 million raptors pass from the Batumi bottleneck and enter Anatolia from north-east. Millions of ducks and geese also use these paths. Sadly large numbers of these birds are killed illegally and they also face other major threats such as electrocution, poisoning and collision with powerlines.
Doğa Derneği (Birdlife in Turkey) has been working on making Turkey safer for birds for more than 15 years and has developed significant projects on the ground both through education and enforcement. At the present Doğa Derneği’s team is working in South Eastern Turkey, especially in Urfa, Birecik, and the  Hatay Amanos mountains and lakes region to ensure safe passage for migratory birds. They have set up educational programs to help the people in these regions understand the importance of keeping the flyways safe. The team has also developed a conservation program for six threatened steppic species with the support of local conservation groups from all over the country.
Due to the large number of Syrian refugees residing in Turkey and especially in the Urfa province where more than 400 000 refugees are based, Doğa Derneği has also started an educational program for refugees about migratory birds and how to keep them safe during their flyways. They have recruited a former Bald Ibis warden from Palmyra Syria who is now living in Urfa to join the local Doğa Derneği conservation group. These wardens have official authority to impose fines and work on stopping illegal hunters. With an Arabic-speaking person in the team, the wardens can work much more efficiently due to the fact that a native speaker can engage directly in the situation. Doğa Derneği has also started to visit schools at refugee camps to widen their educational program about illegal killing of birds.

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