Lake Seyfe in central Türkiye's Kırşehir province has turned into a salt flat since July following a severe lack of precipitation dried up the springs that feed the waterbody.
The lake is one of Turkey's most important wetlands and bird sanctuaries. It used to cover nearly 10,700 hectares and was home to 187 bird species, including 27 endangered species.
Located within the borders of Kırşehir's Mucur district, Lake Seyfe hosts birds such as cranes and ducks, as well as flamingos when there is water.
The lake partially dries up in summer before being revived in winter and spring by melting snow and rain waters.
However, this year it has turned into a “salt flat” due to the lack of precipitation in the summer months and the drying up of the Seyfe, Horla, Yenidoganlı and Malya springs that feed the lake.
The few tourists who come to visit the lake in the summer were left heartbroken by the scene.
One of the visitors, Esma Koç said she lived in Kırşehir for about 10 years and visits the region to watch the birds when there is water. But this time around they were very upset after seeing the lake has completely dried up.
She added that they would observe different types of birds before. “We could see different water birds in the lake, depending on the time of the year. At the moment, it is in a deplorable state. Lake Seyfe has dried up.”
“We want the authorities to find a solution to this as soon as possible. This is a very important value of Kırşehir. There used to be a lot of visitors here, this place was alive,” she said.
Muhammed Talha Yılmaz, another visitor at the site, said he had the opportunity to watch many species from the watchtower the last time he visited the lake. He hoped that the Lake Seyfe Bird Sanctuary would return to its former glory as soon as possible with the changing of season.
He added they could see thousands of birds from the watchtower during their visits when there was water in the lake. “There were different kinds of birds when we were here the last time. We were happy to see them. Lake Seyfe has now dried up.”
Sultan Kıymaz from Kırşehir Ahi Evran University's Agriculture Faculty said that the water level at the Lake Seyfe Bird Sanctuary remained below average for many years between 1998 and 2022 due to drought and blamed a severe lack of precipitation and increased groundwater use in the region.
“The effect of drought has gained even more meaning today with human activities. In our studies on the Seyfe basin, we see that the water level in the lake seriously decreases from June to December. The decrease can also be attributed to the increased use of groundwater for drinking water and agriculture,” they said.
“The region's water resources have been pushed to their limits by their uncontrolled and insensible use.”
They added that the water sources, like the Seyfe, Horla, Yenidoganlı and Malya springs, should be put under protection.
Lake Seyfe Bird Sanctuary has been home to over 187 bird species, including 27 endangered bird species, as well as endemic flora and fauna.
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