Water bird deaths in Turkey’s east stoke concern

Thousands of bird deaths in Turkey’s east have prompted locals to demand an explanation from officials, Hürriyet newspaper said.

“Birds are paralysed, they cannot move their feet, cannot flutter their wings and then die. We have to say stop to this,” the head of a local association said.

The deaths, at Lake Erçek, some 30 km east of Lake Van, have mostly affected waterfowl and flamingos.

A report prepared by Van’s Yüzüncü Yıl University suggested the fatalities were the result of a parasitic infection, caused by the high density of the avian population in the region, which has polluted the birds’ environment.

“We are of the opinion that once the wetlands are no longer polluted, these deaths will decrease in number further,” the report said.

Lake Erçek, like the larger and better-known Lake Van, is a saline soda lake with no outlet and is an important area for birds.

High rainfall this year has resulted in an unusually high concentration of birds arriving in the region according to Atilla Durmuş, a professor at Yüzüncü Yıl University’s Department of Biology.

“Due to heavy rain, this year the flora is more vivid, and the amount of fresh water is higher. That is why the number of species population was very good,” he said in June. “They can easily find food and breed.”