Great Bustards in Çayirbasi, Altintas, Turkey

Posted on Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Submitted by Metin AKSAZ (left of group in photo above)

Great Bustards are locally called “Toy” in our village and other neighboring villages. Great Bustard live in Altintas and they like the area, visit this site in this area you don’t see any tree, in this area farmers grow cereal greens (Barley, wheat, chickpea and clover). Great Bustards feed in the meadow in the morning and in the afternoon you can see them field. Our village and other neighboring villages destroyed its natural habitats [a large lake, Lake Aksaz, and its surrounding marshes]. Its natural areas are used for fields by villagers, and the villagers started using synthetic pesticides and fertilizer. As a result, local wild animals, including the Toy, suffered drastic population decline.

In the early 1980s, Ibrahim Aksaz, my father, realized that the excessive hunting of Toys was threatening the birds’ survival and so he decided to take the initiative to protect it. For many years, Ibrahim travelled locally to speak to the area’s residents, along with government officials, municipalities, wildlife protection associations and NGOs, in order to make them aware of the problem.

He steered clear of the press and reporters, however, fearing media attention could alert poachers to the Toys existence and lead to illegal hunting. He would show the birds only to those sincerely interested and whom he could trust would do the Toys no harm. Even today, the wildlife rangers do not show the Toys‘ nesting areas to visitors from outside the area or other persons unknown to them.

Finally in 1993, with the help of various individuals, institutions and associations who were mobilized to the cause, particularly the Foundation to Promote and Develop Hunting and Wildlife, Ibrahim managed to convince the authorities to declare the area a “Protected Wildlife Refuge”.

In October 2002, cancer took our father Ibrahim. After my father’s death my family worked in this area and we organized the Ibrahim Aksaz Wild Life Protection organization. I’m now president of this organization, we work with government, and every year in this area, Altintas, we count the Bustard population, and we give seminars for organic agriculture.

The protected area is approximately 2000 hectares. In this area is included field, meadow and forest. Great Bustards live in the meadow and field, and we took photographs in the field in November. In this area the roads are bad and I work in the area with my car jeep cj8. The population of Toys in the Altintas area has risen to about 21 individuals.

We think that Great Bustard will continue to live in this area but only with organic agriculture.

Metin AKSAZ, October 2009

We welcome news and updates on Great Bustards and related issues. Please contact the GBG with your submissions. Thankyou.

Charlie Moores

Posted by Charlie Moores

Charlie is the Great Bustard news & Otis (the official Great Bustard magazine) editor, as well as being an authority on birds worldwide & writing for several online blogs.

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