I have been known as the ‘Inked Naturalist’ for a few years now. This is due to the fairly large amount of tattoos I have on my body. The majority of these tattoos were carried out in the space of 20 months and were done for a very good reason!

Back in 2011 I went on a birding and wildlife trip to Turkey with three friends. We visited southern and central Turkey and it was fantastic. 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.

The dots denote hydro projects, the pink areas are Key Biodiversity Areas

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, Doga Dernegi; so I hatched a rather unusual plan. I decided to get both my arms and hands tattooed permanently with iconic Turkish birds (as voted for by my website readers). I ended up with over 80 hours of tattoo time and the following 24 species of birds on my arms and hands; Dead Sea Sparrow, Red-fronted Serin, Pied Kingfisher, European Roller,  Krüper’s Nuthatch, Cinereous Bunting, Pallid Scop’s Owl, Northern Bald Ibis, Black Francolin, White-throated Robin, Wallcreeper, Smyrna Kingfisher, Masked Shrike, Asian Crimson-winged Finch, Crag Martin, Desert Finch, Caspian Snowcock, Radde’s Accentor, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Yellow-throated Pretonia, Little Swift, Snowfinch, Menetries’s Warbler and Rüppell’s Warbler.

This pic was taken mid project…

My next plan was to walk across Turkey (2,500 miles) to continue my fundraising and awareness raising for Doga Dernegi. However this part of my project is currently on hold due to ill health and safety concerns.

All costs relating to the tattoos were be paid for by myself, so ALL donations received will go directly to help protect Turkey’s biodiversity!

You can still make a donation here:

http://www.justgiving.com/givingmyrightarm