ISTANBUL – Turkish Daily News
Two bald ibises have returned to Turkey from their migratory journey, raising hopes that the species, under threat, may not be as close to extinction as some had feared.
This is the first time the ibises have been allowed to leave the country in 18 years and their return is being credited to the efforts of the Doğa Foundation, an environmental nongovernmental organization, and the government.
The threatened species was kept in Turkey starting in 1990 in an effort to prevent its extinction after it became apparent that if the birds left, none would return. The ibises, the home of which is Turkey, Morocco and Syria, began to be caged in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa's Birecik district before the migration season and were then released back to nature for breeding. The number of bald ibises rose to 100 thanks to the practice.
Last year, for the first time, satellite trackers were put on bald ibises and five birds were released to migrate. The fact that two of them, Fırat and Dicle (Turkish for Euphrates and Tigris) came back to Birecik proved that bald ibises can once again survive in nature.
�Fırat and Dicle's return created excitement not only in Turkey, but also in the international arena,� said Güven Eken, the general manager of Doğa Foundation. �In 2008, we are going to track five bald ibises including Fırat and Dicle. The data we are going to collect by these birds is very important for the bald ibises to survive in their natural habitats.�
In 1977 a facility was founded in Birecik to allow bald ibises to breed because their number had decreased to dangerous levels, caused by over-use of pesticides and the lack of livable habitats. To increase the bald ibises' migrating population, the Environment Ministry and Doğa Foundation will continue to track bald ibises with satellites in the following years. The next migration of the bald ibises will be followed live on the Internet.