I set myself a rather unusual challenge to raise funds for the Turkish wildlife charity DogaDernegi. After a wildlife holiday in southern and central Turkey, I fell in love with the country. The amazing biodiversity, awesome scenery and fantastic culture meant that it had a huge impact on my life.
On return to the UK, I was devastated to learn that the Turkish government had sold off all the country’s waterways to private corporations. There are now over 2,000 dams being built and over 1,730 hydro-electric schemes planned. The impact this will cause is disastrous. Not only will the habitats of one of the most biodiverse countries in the Western Palearctic be damaged beyond repair, but many small communities are likely to be displaced, thus destroying these traditional micro-cultures.
185 out of 305 Key Biodiversity Areas are threatened from dams and HEPP’s and will effectively be destroyed.
To put things into context, Turkey is currently home to:
- 30% of the global population of the Critically Endangered Northern Bald Ibis
- more than 90% of the global population of the Cinereous Bunting
- 25% of the European breeding population of the Endangered White-headed Duck
- more than 10% of the global population of the Endangered Egyptian Vulture
- more than 70% of the global population of the near-endemic and Near Threatened Krüper’s Nuthatch
- more than 30% of the global population of Rollers
Additionally, Turkey holds five endemic mammals (mountains here are reported still to hold the Anatolian or Asia Minor Leopard Pantherapardustulliana), 52 endemic freshwater fish, 13 endemic reptiles and over 30 endemic plants.
Populations of most of these species will almost certainly be damaged by the hydro-electric schemes and dams.
When I heard about the disastrous situation in Turkey, I knew I had to do something to raise awareness and raise much-needed funds for the wildlife conservation organisation, DogaDernegi; so I hatched a rather unusual plan.
I ran a poll on my website to discover the top 26 iconic bird species and got them tattooed on my arms, shoulders and hands.
You can find out more by visiting the JustGiving online fundraising page; all money raised goes to BirdLife International who will transfer all donations to their partner in Turkey, Doga Dernegi.
The chosen tattoo artist was the immensely skilled Richard Batey of Immortal Art Studio; he agreed to donate £20 for every hour he worked on my skin (80+ hours).