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Central and eastern Anatolia are isolated from
all maritime influence by mountains. Rainfall
is low, the summers hot and dry and the winters
harsh. In certain areas, the vegetation is steppe-like
but also with forests of pine, oak and beech.
The region around the Salt lake is almost entirely
barren. The climate in eastern Turkey is even
harsher, although the rainfall in the South-East
allows birches, walnuts and oaks to thrive.
Turkey has a great variety of wild animals, with
over 114 species of mammals. The forests belt
in the north is home to gray bears and in the
south to wild goats. Sea turtles and seals play
in the waters of the Mediterranean and the Aegean.
Just as in other parts of the world, some species
have become extinction such as the wild Asian
donkeys, lions and tigers. Some 400 species of
indigenous or migratory birds live in Turkey,
some of which are extinct in Europe such as the
The most important species for environmentalists
is the bald ibis, a peculiar bird with a bald
pink head and drooping feathers. A number of these
birds are now under protection in a colony of
the shore of the Firat river in eastern Turkey.
Turkey is an important stop over for birds migrating
of between Africa, Asia and Europe, with the Istanbul
Straits and Artvin being the preferred sites.
Each spring and autumn, hundreds of thousands
of birds, including storks and some predatory
birds stop in these places before continuing on
their journey. According to the International
Office of Aquatic Birds and Areas, there are some
800 aquatic species in Turkey spanning in sixty
different areas. The shores Lake Manyas near Balikesir
are home to over 200 species of indigenous or
migratory aquatic birds. This lake is considered
to be one of Europe's richest aquatic bird centres.
Over 250 indigenous or migratory birds live in
the Sultan marshes near Kayseri; 20 of these are
considered endangered species, although they come
here to mate and breed. The Sultan marshes are
thought to be the only places where flamingoes,
cranes, herons and pelicans breed together. The
protected salt marshes near Izmir are like a natural
museum, with some 190 species of birds living
in its marshes, lakes and hills. The hills also
shelter rabbits, foxes and even boars. The Iztuzu
sand beaches near Dalyan are the main breeding
area for sea turtles.