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Information for some of the species in danger in Turkey

Cats from Van

Every domestic animal has a different characteristic. One of the cats attracting human beings' attention for centuries, having silky white fur, different colors, perfect hunting abilities and loving to play with water is Van cat. 

The fossil of ancestor primitive of modern domestic cats can be seen about 12 million years ago. It is known that domestication of cats was made by Egyptians in 3000 B.C. The domesticated cats were treated as holy creatures and respected as goddess. Although there are various argument about the place and time of domestication, the thing that is certainly known is that Asians took part in domestication. On the other hand some resources suggest that the cats were semi-domesticated in 1900 B.C. 

Cats are carnivorous. When generalized animals are nourished by proteins. Having sharp senses, eyes seeing well in dark, sharp paws, sharp teeth, alerted and energetic bodies, walking on their feet silently make them good hunters. They have sensitive hairs around eyes and nose which strengthen their hunting abilities. 

They lose their fur hair in Spring and fall, and they have facial muscles which change as a reaction to anything happening. Muscle and skeleton form are controlled in an excellent way and that is why no matter the position they fall from they always fall on their feet.

Cerebrum area is wide and indicates the intelligence of them. In addition, cerebellum is improved, which provides excellence in co-ordination. 

Domesticated cats are either treated as holly creatures or are fed by people at home for hunting harmful animals like mouse, rat and insects for centuries. However, People have started to take them as close friends. 

In recent years one of the cats attracting people's attention in Turkey or in the world is Van cat. However, as required care has not been shown so far, they face loss of the species. The number of them has been decreasing day by day and the original breeds have been lost, while they were often seen in the region and almost each house had one in the past. People of Van call the cat pişik. Van cats are not only seen as a pet or hunter of rats and insects but also a friend and member of the family.

It is said that Van cats used to spend summer in mountain and winter in houses. Today rarely they spend summer in Erek Mountain and winter in houses. 

Van cats are described by the people of region as having long, white, silky fur, long body, tiger walking, fox like tail. Different colors of eyes (dischromatopsy), intelligent, agile is clean, friendly, loves playing and faithful to its owner and therefore these characteristics make it a rare found cat. However, since 1950s, the cat has been introduced to the world by Europeans but this unique cat has not been introduced fully. 

One of the characteristics of Van cats is the color of their eyes. They are classified under three groups according to the color of their eyes:

a. Both eyes blue, 

b. both eyes amber color (yellow and its tones) 

c. one eye (dischromatopsy, one eye blue and the other amber). 

Blue color of Van cats usually shows blue but amber color shows many differences in tones. The tones are amber, light amber, yellow and green almond. Although very rare, sometimes brown color can be seen. Blue eyed cats are classified as blue eyed short, velvet furred cats and blue eyed, long silky fur cats. The color of newly born kittens is grayish. 25 days after birth the color of eyes starts to change, and after 40 days the color reaches final color. 

There are generally one or two black points between ears of kittens. Most of the kittens having two black points are single eyed. And this black point is taken as stamp of single eye cats. However, the black points are lost after 2 months. And sometimes they may have black hairs varying between 8 to 30. 

It is known that having different color of eyes which human beings, dogs and doves face, is genetic defect syndrome.

Body weight of female Van cats is 2900 grams while males weigh 3600 grams. 

Van cats have mating period in February-March-June. This period lasts for up to 10 days. In case of pregnancy during this period, no other mating period is seen in the same year. Pregnancy period is 62 days. The belly starts to swallow from the first month and the cat never lets any one touch her belly. Van cats like other cats prefer to give birth in the locations far away from vision, and for this reason they start to look for isolated and dark location from the first month of the pregnancy. Immediately after birth, placenta of the kittens are cut by the mother. Mother cat suckles its kittens for 50-60 days. However, this period can be more or less. 

Van cats give birth to four kittens at one birth. The eyes of kittens are open on the 10th day. Mother licks its kittens in order to clean them and starts suckling immediately after birth. If mother deems that the location is not safe, it finds a safe place and carries the kittens there. Mother hardly leaves its kittens alone and only leaves them to meet its needs. 

The kittens still with close eyes reacts to smells other than their mother and try to protect themselves. 

The movement of the kittens at the beginning is like walking and crawling. 

Kitten brothers/sisters usually fight for milk. They usually play with each other. Playing game is an essential factor for development. The game is under control of the mother and the mother teaches its kittens how to survive. If the kitten is alone, it wants to play with its mother and if mother is not there even it can play with other animals around. 

The cats have a strong control over the areas they are settled in. They do not want other cats to come to their living areas. When their living places or houses are changed, they try to return to former place if they do not like the new one. Van cats get used to their new living places in 20 to 30 days. During this period they examine the surrounding and are not interested in their owners. 

The cats have more cleaning sense than other animals. They are considerably curious about cleanliness of themselves and their living surrounding. After toilet, they have instinct to burying the dirt. They clean their mouths and faces with help of their paws after eating and toilet.

The hunting characteristic of Van cats is superior. They hunt rats, mice, bird, flies and insects indoor and outdoor, and eat them. They never attack to poultry animals living with them in the house or out of the house.

Van cats love living with human beings in family environment. If they do not have relation with human beings or have a little relationship they start to become wild.

Van Cats are very affectionate, giving head butts and love bites. Especially during pregnancy they are in need of love. They are very close to their owners and love them. When they see strangers they react and escape. They jump on the lap of the ones loving them. They are jealous of their owners showing affection to other cats and small kids.

Although there is a belief that Van Cats suffer from deafness problem, only 2-3% of odd eyed (dischromatopsy) and blue eyed cats suffer from this problem.

Van Cats love to swim and play with water, and with this feature it is the only cat species.

Van cats checks the meal if it is warm with their front paws and if the meal is warm enough they eat. It is also observed that Van Cats eat melon, watermelon and some fruit.

Although the fur is quite thick, they are affected by the cold.

They produce some voices in order to communicate with each other and with human beings. The voices indicate their emotions. Their meowing has some varieties. Some indicates communication with human beings some indicates communication with their kittens or for their sexual activities. The sounds generated according to their needs have different intensity and frequency. Van Cats meow loudly when they see their owners in the morning in order to show their happiness. When they are hungry they go to the kitchen door and meows to indicate that they are hungry. 

When the food is given, they show their grates by means of touching their owner. When they need toilet they go to the door and meow in order to ask their owners to open the door. It is also observed that if the door needs to be opened, they jump to the handle and open it. 

The studies indicated that Van Cats respond to training very well. They understand what have been taught very quickly. They immediately learn the place where soil is put for their toilet needs, and never try other places for toilet needs. 

Kittens are able to learn their names when they are 2-3 months. However, it is thought that this learning is understanding the tone of the sound they are used to rather than learning the names.

It is necessary to take any actions required for preservation of lovely, friendly, intelligent, faithful, beautiful and attractive Van Cats and decrease of them.

Turkish Ministry of Culture 


Each rooster crows at its own place
But Denizli Rooster crows every where.

"Thanks God, I have everything here. Only one thing is missing in my life here: Cock crowing..." said A rich businessman living in New York. The rooster he was talking about was Denizli rooster. While he was expressing his missing of the Rooster, he was also expressing a reality of the modern world. 

"I was born at dawn time in Denizli while roosters were crowing.... Then I used to wake up with the same sound for many years... I was getting out of my bed with the sound of my rooster every morning at a regular time like a clock set at e time. Let me tell you something now..... I have not heard any rooster crowing here for 21 years...The thing that modern city life has taken out off me is rooster crowing sound which is sweeter than gold sound... Contemporary city life, at the very beginning, stops the sound of rooster..."

"Denizli Rooster", the symbol of Denizli is a domestic species which is well known in even the farthest regions to our city with its colour and body building, harmonious long and beautiful crowing. According to some rumours, Berat roosters having long crowing were brought to Istanbul during Ottoman Empire from Albania and then brought to Denizli and crossbred with domestic chicken of Denizli and thus Denizli Rooster species was originated but it is not true. Because there are no similarities between two species when compared in terms of colour and body structure. Denizli rooster was originated automatically upon great care shown by the people living in Denizli to long crowing rooster for centuries. 

The colour of Denizli rooster's eyes is black and blackened with kohl. Its legs are dark grey or purple, its comb is in big axe comb, and atrium is red or white spots on red background, general colour is black and dirty white together. Sometimes wing features have brown colours. Red roosters have black-white mixture. Their alive weight is about 3-3.5 kg. They are divided into 3 groups according to their colours, body building and combp types. According to their colours they are classified into 6 groups as: DEMİRKIR, PAMUKKIR, KINALI, AL, SİYAH and KÜRKLÜ. According to their body buildin they are divided into 3 types, namely : YÜKSEK BOYUN, SÜLÜN and KÜPELİ. According to their combs, they are divided into 2 types: GENİŞ İBİK and DAR İBİK. 

The sound of Denizli roosters are classified according to the tone and clearness. According to sound tones they are divided into 3 groups: İNCE, DAVUDİ, KALIN SES. Davudi(bass) voice is between high pitched and deep voice and is the only sound close to deep voice. According to clearness, they are divided into four groups namely sad voice, shrill voice, wavy voice(funny voice). 

Crowing of Denizli roosters is performed upon use of all abilities. Crowing is divided into four groups depending on body position during crowing, which are LION CROWING, WOLF CROWING, HERO CROWING, PUS CROWING.

A good Denizli Rooster must have: alive apearance; long and strong legs and neck; wide and deep chest; sharp and sloped toward head tail. The same features are true for the chicken. The crowing period of Denizli Roosters in the first year must be 20 to 25 seconds. 

Denizli roosters being grown up by Denizli species production unit formed under body of Directorate of Province Agricultural Affairs are maintened generally in 100 flock. Breeding roosters are selected and the rest are sold according to the demands made from various parts of the country from March, April, and sales of chicks are made in March, April, may, June.

Turkish Ministry of Culture 

The 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 Europe’s 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.

Potato fields 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.

Butterflies 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


The Turkish sheppard dog:

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 province.

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 usually abrupt.

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.

Standing a 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 breed.

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 Turkey!



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. 

In the 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 fodder. 

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