Cyprus' Fauna | Cyprus Inform
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Cyprus’ fauna

Фауна Кипра

The average tourist comes to Cyprus to dive into the azure waves of the Mediterranean Sea, absorb the warm rays of the sun and get acquainted with the monuments of architectural and cultural heritage of the different civilizations.

But Cyprus may also please some tourists anticipating the amazing dive into the wild, where you can meet various representatives of the fauna of the island.

Some ways available to explore the fauna of Cyprus  are diving, jeep safaris, walking and cycling. In any case, excitement and fun are guaranteed.

Familiarity with sea turtles

In addition to the status of a developed tourist center, Cyprus may a have considerable interest for the lovers of wildlife. First of all, it is the place where rare species of sea turtles nest: the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) and the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas).

Currently, the growth of tourist infrastructure in the south of the island, with the accompanying pollution and depletion of the coastal strip, led to the displacement of the sea turtles to the north-west coast (the Akamas peninsula, 50 kilometers from Paphos) and so-called Northern Cyprus (unrecognized state), where the conditions for the breeding population of these unique reptiles under the government project “Protection and preservation of turtles” have been created.

 

a turtle on a Cypriot beacha turtle on a Cypriot beacha clutch of turtle eggs

The nearby beach, where turtles nest, is identified as a protected area. Organised teams of volunteers, who are round the clock, monitor the clutches of eggs, and run incubator-equipped stations for artificial breeding.

The fight for the preservation of rare species of sea turtles has led to a sharp increase in their populations in recent years, while in 1997, according to the observations, only 25 individuals arrived at the shores of Cyprus.

The sandy beaches where the turtles lay their eggs are closed for tourists and protected for the period of egg hatching. However, each year, usually during the period between September 17th-21st, on the beach Alagadi (Alagadi Turtle Beach) and in the Akamas nature reserve (Lara Bay Turtle Conservation Station) they organize special events for tourists at sunset, in the framework of which it is possible to observe the surprising discovery of turtle clutches. You can see thousands of baby turtles which have difficulty, being freed from the egg shells, and then sent towards the warm waves.

Watching the miracle of birth is accompanied by interesting stories by the guides and volunteers about the amazing instinct, thanks to which the turtles inhabit distant seas, find the coast of Cyprus for spawning, repeatedly year after year in the same way, to give birth to their offspring.

Enthusiastic observers can take photos and videos of the sea turtles with the background of a beautiful sunset on a sandy Mediterranean beach.

There is free entrance to the beach on an independent visit. the excursion program costs about 40 euros.

Meeting with the unique world of birds

birds in CyprusOrnithologists and bird lovers can also find many interests in Cyprus. The world of birds is an undoubted wealth of Cyprus and boasts of more than 340 species of native birds, as well as tens of thousands of migratory ones. This abundance and diversity is due to the geographical location of the island, located in the zone of intersection of routes for seasonal migratory of birds and the most convenient climate for stopping.

Troodos mountain range, forests and slopes is a place with the highest numerous concentrations of birds are, where you can meet the chaffinch, the crossbill, the Cypriot partridge, the nightingale, the waxwing and other species.

birds in CyprusAlso in this area you will encounter refuge birds and birds of prey. Significant is the fact that a pair of vultures and imperial eagles, which are on the verge of extinction, weave their nests on the steep slopes of these mountains.

They live in Cyprus and are under the protection of the Red Book and the Government of Cyprus griffon vultures; the Eleonora’s falcon (according to legend, the bird was hunted by the Cypriot Queen Eleanor d’Arborea in the XIV century), the imperial eagle, a predatory vulture and the Egyptian vulture.

Visiting Salt Lake (near Larnaca) in the winter, you can admire flocks of pink flamingos, which are especially revered guests in Cyprus from the Caspian Sea, which are so popular that they have become front-page news in the Cypriot press and media channels.

Flamingos, herons, cranes and various types of ducks in the lake are visited by many bird watchers.

Bird watching can either be done alone, armed with a map and a navigator or by taking a car, and in the framework of organized excursions, which cost about 70 euros.

 

bird watching in Cyprus

Mouflons are expected by tourists in nurseries and zoos

mouflonsSome historical documents bring us information that in in past years the fauna in Cyprus was diverse – wild boars, roe deer, deer, wild goats, horses and sheep lived here.

In literary works, myths and legends even hippos in the lakes are mentioned, dwarf elephant herds  grazing on the plains in Cyprus  and leopards preying on them.

Currently, most of these animals have become extinct due to urbanization and the negative impact of humans on the environment, or were exterminated by hunters and sportsmen.

Only a few survived in Cyprus, and one of them is the Cypriot mouflon (Ovis musimon). These wild goats with the large curved horns were subject exclusively to royal hunting and guarded by rangers that helped prevent total extinction. Now hunting for mouflons  is banned along with the hunting of wild mules and wild burros in the Karpas peninsula.

Animals which are listed as endangered, are cared about by the state to  maintain their population. In the wild, the mouflon is almost impossible to meet; some individuals live in the Troodos mountains.

Tourists are also easier to get to know them in a nursery in the forest station “Stavros tis Psokas” to the northwest of Cedar Valley, in Platania near Kakopetria and at the zoo of the city of Limassol. The average cost of tours are about 50 euros.

For lovers of rare lizards and snakes

a chameleon in CyprusThe island is homeland for chameleon lizard species – lizards, geckos, chameleons in size from very small (up to 10 cm in length) to larger (up to 50 cm in length). There are especially a lot of lizards, found in crevices of historical ruins and medieval castles, and small iguanas in green areas in urban areas.

In Cyprus, there are only two species of venomous snakes – vipers and the Balkan “black snake” (Coluber jugularis), which live only in the mountains.

The wonderful world of butterflies

a butterfly in CyprusThese treasures are waiting for butterfly fans in Cyprus. Especially prized are such rare local species, like the “Red Admiral” butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) and the “Cyprus’ meadow” butterfly (Maniola cypricola).

Not less attractive is the orange and yellow “Cleopatra” (Gonopterix cleopatra taurica), which flew from Africa, and the covering the strawberry tree with colorful bilateral drapery, butterfly “Pasha” (Churaxis jasius).

It should be noted that the residents of northern latitudes will be pleasantly surprised by a minimum number of mosquitoes in Cyprus.

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