You are currently viewing TURKEY’S FAUNA


The diversity of fauna in Turkey is even greater than its flora. While the number of species throughout Europe as a whole is around 60,000, in Turkey they number over 80,000. If subspecies are also counted, then this number rises to over a hundred thousand.

As in the case of plants, Anatolia is the original homeland of several species. For instance, the fallow deer now common in Europe was introduced from Turkey in the 17th century. This species comes from the foothills of the Taurus Mountains between Antalya and Adana. Another example is the pheasant which comes from Samsun on Turkey’s Black Sea coast. The scientific name of this beautiful bird is Phasianus colchicus, “Phasianus” being the ancient name for the Kizilirmak river, and “colchicus” deriving from Colhia, an ancient kingdom which stretched along the Black Sea coast to the Caucasus. We can also name the Bald Ibis, known as Kelaynak in turkish, which is a special migrating bird with the risk of extinction! The domestic sheep is a descendant of the wild sheep, Ovis musimon anatolica, which as the scientific name indicates was a native of Anatolia. Few people are aware that the Anatolia leopard is one of the largest of these graceful cats, and that it was the species used in gladiator fights by the Romans constructed as traps for these creatures can still be seen scattered in the Taurus Mountains, and are known locally as tiger-traps. Indeed, the tiger is another creature whose original homeland was Anatolia, a little known fact reflected in the name tiger itself , which comes from the Latin name Felis Tigris, or Tigris cat after the Tigris river. The lions which survive only in Hittite statues today were once another member of the Anatolian fauna.