Hundreds of baby and adult flamingos were found dead on a dried part of Lake Tuz (Salt Lake) in the central Turkish province of Konya over the past week, prompting renewed emphasis on the impact of drought on the ecosystem.

The lake - the second largest in Turkey and one of the largest hypersaline lakes in the world - is among the favorite habitat of migratory animals and has long been a hatching ground for flamingos. Though it is shallow and gets little precipitation throughout the year, its salty nature is conducive to the nesting of migratory birds. However, the drought stemming from climate change has led to a recession of lake's waters, making finding food a challenge for flamingos.

Carcasses of birds now dot the lake's parts in the Cihanbeyli district of Konya. The birds had arrived to the lake in March for their incubation season. Mehmet Emin Öztürk, a nature photographer who is a frequent visitor to the area in the summer, says Lake Tuz had been "a paradise for flamingos, but now (it has) turned into a nightmare."

"This was a wetland where you could see hundreds of flamingos last year. This time, there is neither water nor living birds. The water receded for a stretch of about 10 kilometers (6 miles)," he told Ihlas News Agency (IHA) on Tuesday.

Bird watchers say every year, 5,000 to 10,000 flamingos are born during the hatching season at Lake Tuz. So far only 5,000 have hatched. Fahri Tunç, another photographer, says most of the birds died because of drought. Tunç told Demirören News Agency (DHA) that excessive use of water from the lake, for irrigation purposes, was also to blame for receding water levels.

"There are water canals feeding the lake, but villagers block them to divert water to their fields. The lake already has a low level of water, and blocking the canals only accelerates its death," he lamented. Efforts are underway to promote new irrigation techniques that save water in the region, which is viewed as the breadbasket of the country.

(Read more here)