İsrafil Erdoğan, the third district director for the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs Nature Conservation and National Parks, said they are planning to release "gazella subgutturosas," mountain gazelles raised in Kızılkuyu Wildlife Protection and Improvement Area, in the Mardin and Şırnak provinces after ministry approval.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Erdoğan said a number of gazelles raised in Kızılkuyu Wildlife Protection and Improvement Area have already been released in the region. Nearly 1,000 gazelles have been released to date.
Noting that the gazelles face occasional hazards because the district sits close to urban areas, Erdoğan mentioned that the released gazelles have continued to breed, and the district has a large population of gazelles now.
He also said their directorate general has been negotiating with the ministry to release gazelles in different regions. "We have determined that there is a big gazelle population in this area. We believe our district has reached its limit for this species. The animals continue to breed. According to our data, the district is unable to host additional gazelles since it is located so close to civilization. We will continue to allow the gazelles to breed. However, we are now planning on releasing them in different areas. If the ministry approves, we will release gazelles in Mardin and Şırnak, which were once natural habitats for the species," he continued.
Explaining that the released gazelles are monitored 24 hours a day, especially during breeding season, Erdoğan stressed that their preservation work is meticulously conducted.
Providing watering troughs in case of drought
Erdoğan reported that the region has been unusually dry this year and that precautions have been taken to help the animals during this difficult time.
Saying that they have provided watering troughs in some places where animals have difficulty finding water, Erdoğan stressed: "When we build these watering troughs, we use durable materials. The troughs are automatically filled by streams and rain. Wild animals really benefit from them."
He also said supplemental food, such as hay and feed for herbivores as well as bones for carnivores, are distributed after heavy snowfall.
İsrafil Erdoğan said the field service of the Directorate General for Nature Conservation and National Parks takes responsibility for the protection of animals forced to share their environment with people in populated areas.
Fines for abuse
While implying that disturbing the animals is a crime, Erdoğan reported: "We have cats, dogs or other animals who share space with us. Some animals, such as sheep, cows and goats, are fed by people. There was no department to protect these animals from abuse. Thanks to Minister Veysel Eroğlu, our department assumed this duty. The Law for Animal Conversation, number 5519, was introduced. We run the enforcing and coordinating departments for this law. People have been issued fines for their improper behavior toward animals. We have handed out fines totaling TL 300,000 ($74,500) to more than 100 individuals in accordance with law 5199."
Drawing attention to the importance of peacefully sharing our living space with other creatures, Erdoğan lastly added: "We have displaced animals by destroying their natural habitats. We should respect other creatures in the world. This is significant for both our religion and culture. People disregard this at times and we fine them. I hope one day we can peacefully live with animals without having to maintain the balance through punishments."