Turkey steps up the fight to protect endangered species

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Lions, tigers, rhinos and an unknown number of species once roamed the vast lands of Anatolia. They have all disappeared, but the country is still home to a diverse animal population and rich flora. The government renewed its efforts to make the wildlife thrive with a new project launched Tuesday by the Department of Agriculture and Forestry.

The “Endangered Species” project, sponsored by Minister Bekir Pakdemirli, is a forerunner of a nationwide action plan to address the challenges to the survival of fauna and flora, implemented with the support of the European Union’s Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance, which provides countries Allocates funds for multiple projects.

“Biodiversity is our wealth and we will keep this wealth alive,” said Pakdemirli at the start of the project in the capital, Ankara.

About 100 endangered or near-endangered species are under protection across the country, along with a wide variety of animals and plants that were thought to be extinct or threatened with extinction, such as the famous Anatolian leopard, which is said to have been photographed recently in the wild.

Across the world, about 40% of plant species became extinct in the last century, Pakdemirli noted, adding that the total animal population has declined by 68% over the past five decades. “Around one million species are threatened by climate change and the damage to their habitat. Preserving endangered species, gathering data about them and ensuring their survival is not an option but a debt to future generations, ”he said.

The official figures show that Turkey is home to 13,409 species of plants and animals. The climate crisis threatens to destroy the ecosystem as changing temperatures force animals to migrate and affect plants that have to adapt to new, unfavorable conditions. Due to the increasing population, urban development is also a challenge for wild animals, whose habitats are attacked by humans. In recent years, international bio-smuggling, which has increased over time, has exacerbated the suffering of the species, with smugglers targeting both plants and animals and hunting the precious plants and animals used in various industries.

Although the effects of global warming are looming over it, Turkey’s rich climate, from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, is still favorable to various species. Turkey, located between Europe and Asia, is almost “like a continent,” said Pakdemirli, adding that the world’s two main migration routes for birds are in Turkish areas.

“We have increased the number of protected areas from 168 to 628 in the last 19 years. Today we have 46 national parks and 259 nature parks. We work both for the public connection with nature and for nature tourism while preserving these areas. We invested around US $ 126 million (TL 1.8 billion) in conservation and conservation areas over the same period, “he said.

Pakdemirli said that they completed the work of inventorying all species for a biodiversity database called Noah’s Ark, and Turkish researchers also discovered new species during the inventory process. “We will accelerate our efforts. We currently monitor 331 flora, 229 fauna and 276 zones designated as exclusive habitats for multiple species, ”he added.

The minister gave examples of Turkey’s conservation efforts, such as the breeding of 225 wild animals this year alone at 13 wildlife breeding stations across the country and the release of 105,000 birds from wildlife sanctuaries into the wild.

“Turkey is home to 85 wildlife development areas that include species such as Anatolian wild sheep, gazelles and bald ibis. Our conservation plans for 100 species range from white lilies, which are endemic to Izmir, to bald ibis and striped hyenas in Şanlıurfa, Caucasian viper in Artvin, boar legumes in Afyon, Dalmatian pelican and Trojan snowdrop. “

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