‘The water used to be up to your armpits’: birds starve as Turkey’s lakes dry up

‘The water used to be up to your armpits’: birds starve as Turkey’s lakes dry up

Drought, rising temperatures and poor farming practices are taking a devastating toll on the country’s wildlife

“If we stood in this spot a few years ago, the water would be up to your armpits,” says vet Isa Agit, standing on sun-hardened and cracked mud that used to be part of a lake in eastern Turkey, with his hands firmly wrapped around a long-legged buzzard. “That’s the last of the flamingos over there,” he adds, pointing to what is left of the lake in the village of Enginsu – a patch of water just visible in the distance.

Over the past 50 years, 60% of Turkey’s 300 natural lakes have dried up and the loss is devastating for birds and other wildlife. Reduced rainfall, rising temperatures, the mismanagement of public land and poor agricultural practices have caused water levels, even in the Middle East’s second largest lake, Lake Van, to recede by as much as 200 metres.

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