information for Fauna and Flora of Turkey
Butterflies of Cappadocia
Small oases of
green vegetation scattered along the otherwise inhospitable
valleys provide sustenance not only for human beings but for a
wide diversity of wildlife, including birds, insects and
reptiles. In the first warm days of April butterflies and moths
of a myriad colours and designs emerge from their chrysalises.
One of Europes foremost areas in this respect, Cappadocia is
home to over two or three times the number of moths. What makes
Cappadocia of particular interest to naturalists is the fact
that species native to Europe, North Africa and the Near East
are found together here.
attract Papilio Machaon, with its blue and red spots on white
ground and wings tapering into long tails. The Balkan species
Allancastria Cerisyi is also to be seen here, as is the rare
Parnassius Apollon, which flutters on the high forested slopes
of Mount Erciyes. The lovely Issoria Hathonla, with is metallic
silvery spots on the underside of its wings, appears in late
spring and can be seen throughout the summer. A visitor to
flower gardens in summer and autumn is the large Argynnis Paphia,
while in in the summer the dry hills are home to Chazara Briseis,
patterned in grey and yellow on black. One of the species unique
to Turkey is Agrodiaetus Iphigenia Nonacriensis, distinguished
by its incandescent turquoise wings. Most famous of the species
native to the Cappadocian region and not found else where is
Zygaena Kapadokia, a tiny but beautiful butterfly moth which
lives in grassland.
are generally short lived, but there are exceptions among
migrating species which leave North Africa in early spring and
fly thousands of kilometres northwards. The most common of these
is Cynthia Cardui, which is seen throughout Europe as far as
Scandinavia. The first swarms of migrating butterflies arrive in
April, and remain until October, laying eggs twice during the
summer on thistles and nettles. So when you are in Cappadocia
take time out from the frescos and rock hewn churches to watch
for the butterflies, which add another dimension of interest and
colour to this unique region.
Written by Turgay Tuna
IBIS (KECELAYNAK) BIRDS
From old hand
writing documents, it has been determined that Thermit Ibis
birds used to live in Europe since 1504. This bird, which was
living in Central Europe near the Alps, was first defined by C.
Gessner as Corvus Sylvaticus in 1555 in Historia Animalium and
some information was given about the birds' life style. Later,
it was determined that those birds, which disappeared in Europe,
emigrated to Middle East countries and Africa and they still
live in these countries.
Thermit Ibis that come to Birecik in the middle of February
settle down at rocks in the middle of March. After their
procreation, they grow up their youngs and in the middle of July
they leave Birecik with their youngs. The reason for these birds
to come to Birecik for procreation is thought to be that the
calcite mineral in those rocks increased the procreation energy
of birds. Thermit Ibis birds are single mate and every year they
build their nest and lash out with the same couple. Mature birds
are the ones that show their energy to build up a nest. It is
necessary to be 5 years old, to become a mature bird. Their
average life period is 25-30 years.
beginning of 1950, the number of Thermit Ibis was more than
1000, there had been a specific decrease in the number of birds
since 1954. Destruction of natural feeding environment of these
birds with overuse of agricultural insecticide chemicals,
hunting of these birds by the hunters in their long immigration
period and cold weather conditions are the main reasons for the
decrease of Thermit Ibis birds. Thermit Ibis birds follow the
Lebanon - Israel way and the River Nil or Red Sea coast and can
not be observed at those places.
In order to prevent the decrease in number and disappearing of
the generation, Thermit Ibis Procreation Station was established
in Birecik by the Generate Directorate of Forestry of the
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Affairs in 1972. In
this station, first of all two mature and nine young Thermit
Ibis birds were captured by net and put into a cage, and then
production started in 1977. The birds under protection are fed
with meat without fat, planed carrot, boiled egg and mixture of
In February 1996, 52 Hermit Ibis birds set free from procreation
station to reproduction in nature. After the reproduction season,
the total number reached to 75 with 23 young birds. 4 of them
are given to Istanbul Bayramoğlu Zoo, 5 of them are given to
Atatürk Orman Çiftliği, 13 of them immigrated and 45 of them are
still living in procreation station.
Birecik people consider Thermit Ibis birds which they regionally
call Keçelaynak holy. Arrival of Hermit Ibis birds to Birecik in
the middle of February is interpreted by Birecik people as a
sign of spring. In recent years, "Hermit Ibis Festival" is being
organized in Birecik for these birds.
Turkish Ministry of Culture
The Kangal Dog
is found in the high rolling plains country of central Turkey.
The approximate geographic center of the region is Sivas City.
The Kangal Dog has historically been associated with the town of
Kangala district town within Sivas Province. While much of the
landscape is rolling plains, the region is cut by the Kulmaç
Mountains and the Tecer Mountains running approximately NE/SW.
The Uzun Yayla southwest of Kangal is a major Kangal Dog and
sheep producing area. The Kızılırmak River runs through the
province. A karst topography dominates the northern part of the
Although Sivas Province is the center of Kangal Dog breeding,
good examples of the breed can also be found in parts of the
neighboring provinces of Kayseri, Yozgat, Tokat, Erzincan, and
Malatya, where they border on Sivas Province. The precise
regional boundaries for the Kangal Dog cannot be defined, but
the demarcation between true Kangal Dogs and other dogs is
Kangal. A name well known to the people of Turkey! Its very name
evokes the romance and legendary aura of this land so steeped in
history. This ancient breed springs forth like a lion from its
epicenter - the Kangal District - a region in east central
Turkey located in what is known as the Anti-Taurus. While Turkey
has more than one indigenous dog breed, the Kangal is the most
famous of them all. This breed's status is manifested by its
portrait on a national Turkish postage stamp. If any dog breed
can be characterized as the national dog of Turkey, that breed
is the Kangal Dog.
minimum of 30 inches (dogs) at the withers and weighing an
average 120 pounds, the Kangal Dog is a strongly-built,
magnificent dog distinguished by its black face and ears. The
short, soft body coat ranges from light dun to steel grey in
color and is usually accented with a white chest blaze and white
stockings on the feet and legs. Turkish shepherds frequently
crop the ears close to the skull, thereby enhancing its leonine
appearance. When equipped with the traditional spiked, iron
collar around its neck, the Kangal Dog, in its native land,
projects an intimidating and powerful image.
The correct, traditional name for the breed in Turkey is Kangal
Köpegi or Sivas Kangal Köpegi. (The Turkish word köpek means "dog"
in English. When used with an adjective in the Turkish language,
the word "köpek" takes the form köpeği.) Thus, the direct
translation is Kangal Dog or Sivas Kangal Dog. No other name is
acceptable to the Turks, nor to its original sponsor in Europe
and the United States - The Kangal Dog Club of America, Inc., a
non-profit corporation founded to preserve the breed, protect
its name, and maintain the Turkish-American standard for the
To understand the Kangal Dog, one needs to understand the
context-historical, cultural, and physical-in which it is found.
Our objective is to provide all the information needed to
understand and appreciate this magnificent breed.
If any dog breed can be characterized as the "national dog" of
Turkey, the Kangal Dog is that dog. Simply stated, the Kangal
Dog is a cultural and historic icon of the Turkish people.
The image of the Kangal Dog in Turkey is very positive. This
image connotes power, strength, and generates a great sense of
pride. There is a feeling of awe for the great Kangals of
TULIPS JOYS OF THE TULIP AGE
Let us have fun,
let us all dance and play,
for it is tulip time!
Aynalıkavak Kasrı with tulips
Paeans to the
tulip resounded in the air. In İstanbul, in the early 18th
century, the Sultan and the populace rejoiced in music,
festivities, parades and dances. Countless tulips of all
varieties with such poetic names as Blue Pearl, Light of Dawn,
Ruby Drop and The Divine Throne adorned the Ottoman imperial
capital. It was a period of peace, lavish entertainment and
creativity. An early 20th century historian gave it the name of
The Tulip Age. This perfect name will endure, because it
encapsulates the spirit of a halcyon epoch of about twelve years
during which the tulip was the symbol of the sensuality of the
creative arts... and the joy of life as an art.
In the reign of Sultan Ahmed III, following more than four
centuries of war, conquest and defeat, the Ottomans suddenly
decided to enjoy la dolce vita. The ruling establishment turned
away from military engagement and diplomacy to wallow in wine,
women and song. Carpe diem: Seize the day. All they wanted was
to create Paradise on Earth - the pleasure Principle became
their doctrine. The French Ambassador, de Villeneuve, reported
that the Turkish Court seemed perpetually bent upon some new
excursion, continually filing by in gorgeous cavalcades or
floating upon the waves of the Bosphorus or the Golden Horn. In
eight months, after repeated requests, he was able to see the
Grand Vizier once - and the famous Grand Vizier Damat İbrahim
Paşa from Nevşehir talked to him only about tulips.
ubiquitous - not only in the gardens of the Topkapı Palace and
of wealthy people, but also in the backyards and window-sills of
the houses where the poor lived. Artists glorified this time-honoured
Turkish flower on tiles, fabrics, embroideries, miniature
paintings, book illuminations, head-dress and slippers, rowboats
and tombstones, painted glass and household utensils. As a
leitmotif, it enlivened all the creative genres.
Aynalıkavak Kasrı with tulips
indigenous to parts of Central Asia Minor where the Turks had
already held sway for many centuries, stood as the premier
flower of the Ottomans. It even acquired a religious
significance because, in the Arabic script that the Ottoman used,
the name of the tulip, lâle, bears a resemblance to Allah. The
etymology of the word tulip, however, may be traced to dulband,
or turban, which European and British travellers likened to the
shape of the flowers.
This Turkish flower was already cherished in Ottoman gardens,
visual arts, and classical poetry by the time Sultan Süleyman
the Magnificent ascended the throne in 1520. His supreme judge,
perhaps the greatest legal mind of Ottoman Islam, Ebussuud
Efendi had a passion for flowers, especially for tulips. In
1554, Ambassador Busbecq came to the court of Süleyman the
Magnificent as the envoy of Austrian Emperor and was struck by
the varieties and the vibrancy of flowers in the Ottoman
imperial capital. He wrote:
We saw everywhere an abundance of flowers... The Turks are so
fond of flowers that even the marching troops have their orders
not to trample on them.
Busbecq was especially astonished to see the tulip, a flower
unknown to Europeans. He took some bulbs with him back to Vienna
where, in 1559, the Swiss botanist Konrad Gesner saw garden
tulips for the first time, and the first picture of the tulip,
which he described as a big reddish flower similar to a red lily,
appeared in his Book of Garden Flowers in 1561. Later the
celebrated Dutch botanist Clusius obtained a number of bulbs
from Busbecq, developed many new varieties - and in a few
decades, tulips had triumphantly fired the European imagination.
In the 1630, a craze often referred to as Tulipomania swept
through Holland. Vagaries of the tulip trade resulted in vast
fortunes made or lost. Yet, the aesthetic experience of tulips
has endured in Holland for more than 350 years now.
Ottomania erupted as the second decade of the 18th century drew
to a close. Ottomans were breeding their own varieties and
importing dozens more from Holland and elsewhere. By the mid
1720s they had close to 900 varieties each bearing a special
name. A later document states that there were as many as 1.750
varieties. Some were sold for 1.000 gold pieces each. When a
foreign ambassador brought but lost a special new breed intended
as a gift for the Sultan, town criers strolled through İstanbul
streets offering a huge reward, a fortune, to finder. It was
never found or never turned in.
But the creative spirit as well as the excesses of the Age
dwarfed the tulip fields. Festivals were held lasting the
proverbial 40 days and 40 nights. İstanbul, the ancient city
that already boasted of 25 centuries of sovereign history, kept
vibrating with the sounds, sights and pleasures of the revelries
organized for its wealthy residents and sometimes for the entire
populace. A chronicler reports that 1.500 cooks prepared for
100.000 people a day sumptuous food made of 16.000 chickens,
geese and turkeys and 15000 cauldrons of meat pilav were
At night 15 to 25 thousand lanterns illuminated the city and
5000 to 7000 firecrackers decked the skies. Music, dance, mock
battles, comedy, acrobatics, magic shows, javelin games, torch
pageants- an inexhaustible diversity of entertainment.
During the day, parades with fascinating floats and displays
went through the ancient hippodrome and some of the main avenues.
Guilds of artisans, one after another presented their works and
wares. The whole city was enchanted.
The spirit of the age revelled in new lilting compositions, in
miniature paintings (particularly those by the greatest stylist
Levni), in dazzling decorative arts, in erotic and hedonistic
poetry, especially the cheerful verses of Nedim (who rhapsodised:
Lets laugh and play, lets enjoy the world to the hilt.)
Miniature from the Tulip Age
twelve years, the Tulip Age gave new direction and brave new
dimensions to many Ottoman arts. This was also the period which
intensified relations with Europe. İstanbul witnessed the
emergence of European architectural styles-and Ottoman influence
would lead to the European fad that came to be known as
Turquerie. The Tulip Age also ushered in the printing press for
the publication of books in the Turkish language. Impetus was
given to science, libraries, translation, and intellectual
All the merriment in the world could not distract the poverty-stricken
people. Too much circus and not enough bread led to a plebeian
uprising, and the Sultan was toppled. In 1730 the Tulip Age came
to an abrupt end. But the glory of its arts endures - and the
love for tulips.
By Prof. Talat S. Halman