This week we had a fascinating story pop-up in Turkey, where the Turkish government is facing stiff opposition over the construction of a huge dam, not only from conservationists – but its own judiciary. What I find so interesting about stories such as this is how the whole issue has seemingly gone unnoticed in the mainstream media and bird media. It's so rare these days that such controversial stories – a country's judiciary opposing its own government – slip under the radar. We are all so clued-up to what is happening across the globe that when a story emerges in a part of the world that I certainly had no knowledge of, it makes it all the more intriguing.
By studying the Ilisu dam project in south eastern Turkey, which is well on the way towards the Syrian border, I came across what looks like a wholly spectacular part of the world that gets very little coverage. I got a sniff of the story and then began doing research, and what I found was some wonderful photographs of what is obviously not only a stunning location, one steeped in 10,000 years of human history, but a place that has a very small human footprint. South-eastern Turkey is well off the tourist map and yet, from what I can see from photographs online, is a truly beautiful place that’s teeming with wildlife.
It's probably because of its remoteness – and the fact that the majority population are ethnic Kurds – that the Turkish government feels it can bulldozer the project through. Once again, the work of BirdLife International and its regional Turkish partner (which has written hugely impressive papers on the biodiversity in the area) has highlighted the issue to the wider world. The damming of the famous Tigris river, the flooding of a beautiful canyon and the submerging of the ancient ruins of Hasankeyf are the aim of the government – and quite rightly should be stopped. BirdLife International's research said if the Tigris is dammed, like its sister river the Euphrates, it will also become a group of large ponds, where riverine life wither and die.
So if you've got five minutes, do a few searches on the project and the area. It looks a great place for an adventure holiday and increased international awareness of the fight against the dam can only help.
Hasta la vista...