Endangered birds, the Northern Bald Ibises, have been caged in Turkey to stop them from migrating to the Syrian conflict zone. Concerns over the birds have been linked to dwindling populations and concern that most have not made a return journey to Turkey in recent years. More than 200 birds are currently being caged in a breeding centre in Birecik which is just across the border from Syria. The centre, which began in 1977, captured eleven birds and has now got a population of 205.
In 2010, a donation of birds was made from Turkey to Syria as their population had decreased to four due to hunting, habitat loss and disease. The donation of six bald headed Ibises marked a thawing of relations between traditional rivals who threatened war several times over the last three decades. The concern over the Syrian conflict has widened since 2011 as war has displaced millions of people internally and created millions more refugees. Israfil Erdogan, a representative of the General Directorate of Nature Conversation stated “If peace comes to the Middle East and we can be sure of their safety, we can send them out again to migrate in future years but we won’t let all of them go. We will choose adults to preserve.”
Being traditionally migratory birds, further loss of the population upon release is a large concern. The birds are closely monitored for disease with a strict diet to grow the population further in anticipation of the war’s end. When they are released, they will have transmitters in their feet to understand their migratory patterns and help aid conservation efforts in the future.