The stork and the fisherman — a real life fable

Screenshot from the scene in the documentary film “Yaren” starring the fisherman and the stork.

The story of a Turkish fisherman Adem Yilmaz, also known as “uncle Adem,” and a stork named Yaren might sound like it's straight out of La Fontaine fables — children's fables popular in Western and Eastern Europe — but this relationship couldn't be more real. The two have been meeting every year for the past twelve years in Eskikaraağaç village, Turkey. Each year, around March, Yaren, visits Adem on his fishing boat during the stork's annual migration north, and the two pose for what has become an annual photo op. Adem welcomes Yaren with freshly caught fish from the lake. The duo has become a symbol of an unusual friendship but has also turned them into local celebrities. There is even a documentary film called “Yaren,” that can be watched on YouTube.

In the 12th year, Yaren Stork kept his word. He endured rains and storms, crossed countries, cities and mountains, and arrived to its nest yesterday and today onto Uncle Adem's boat, and posed. May you have a life as long as your feather. His arrival is a relief for us all, finally.

This year, Yaren’ arrival was also a sign of hope and normalcy in the country that was hit by a devastating earthquake on February 6, taking more than 45,000 lives and leaving mass destruction behind. The stork arrived much later than expected, and many who have followed the story of Yaren and Adem over the years were growing worried, including the wildlife photographer Alper Tuydes who has been following Adem and Yaren for some time. But Yaren's arrival, albeit late, lifted the spirits of the country and its people. “This image, by the nature and wildlife photographer Alper Tuydes, has given us hope for better days to come. Their story of loyalty and warm friendship feels medicinal,” wrote The Magger, a digital platform in Turkey that often writes about travel, culture, art, cinema, and music.

Meanwhile, Yaren and his nesting partner, Nazli, have built a nest in Eskikaraağaç village, Turkey's location in the “European Stork Village Network” network. Villages that are part of the network are “designated for their exemplary dedication to the protection of the White Stork.” They will remain in Eskikaraağaç for the next six months until they migrate back down south. The village of Eskikaraağaç in the province of Bursa is on the route for tens of thousands of storks migrating from Africa to European countries via Turkey. For fans of Yaren, there is even a live feed overlooking his nest. Last year, the duo nested three chicks.

Two years ago, photographer Tuydes visited Adem and Yaren in May. He filmed candid moments with Adem feeding Yaren and asking about Yaren's babies and his partner.

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