The Great bustard (Otis tarda) is the heaviest bird species in Turkey. It is classified as Vulnerable globally. The range of this species is limited to plain steppes and arable fields in Central and Eastern Anatolia, as well as in the south-east. Great bustard can be observed throughout the year in Anatolia. It breeds in the steppe habitats in central and eastern Anatolia and winters in Ceylanpınar and Akçakale Plains in southeastern Anatolia. The population in eastern Anatolia is restricted to Muş, Bulanık and Malazgirt Plains. The last wintering sites of the species are Ceylanpınar and Akçakale Plains in Şanlıurfa and some plains in Diyarbakır.
Doğa’s aim is to establish a network consisting of stakeholders and inhabitants of rural areas where Great bustard is found in order to implement agricultural practices that do not harm the species. Doğa started implementing pilot projects in eastern, south-eastern and central Anatolia with local stakeholders. As a result of these initiatives, the National Great Bustard Action Plan was prepared and launched with the collaboration of the Ministry of Agriculture.
The population of this threatened species is still decreasing in Turkey due to the loss and degradation of its habitat through agricultural intensification, land-use changes and infrastructure development. In addition, irrigation methods, pesticides, hunting and destruction of nests by mechanized farming limit the species’ reproductive success. It is estimated that the population in Turkey does not exceed 300 pairs. Doğa continues to regularly monitor the species through a local network.
Photograph: © Ignacio Yúfera