Cyprus wildlife

Conservation please

Spiders and cockroaches

Conservation in Cyprus

Cyprus is not that unusual in its attitude to conservation in general in that its natural habitats are being developed and destroyed in order to feed the pocketbooks of business, both big and small. *(To those of you who have visited before, We have to keep changing the text as too many people seem to copy what we write, to put on their travel to Cyprus related websites, so please bear with us.)

Not too long ago you did not hear the birds singing, because they were being decimated by lime sticks and shot by hunters. ( yes even the mighty sparrow had its day in the arena.)  These were served up in restaurants and private homes as amberopoulia - yes, mixed small bird. We are now in the situation where it has been made illegal, however that doesn't seem to make much difference. I was in a new take away in Larnaca not so recently, ( 2007) good food, run by an ex policeman. I was with a foreign acquaintance and was explaining what amberopoulia was and how it is now illegal, when the proprietor piped up with 'You have to put in the order a few days in advance, but we make quite a lot." I was gob smacked ! My moral high ground robbed me of yet another good eating house, drat.

Nowadays the same thing is happening, but birds are being bred for the hunting season and the swarthy hunters, in full battle dress stalk them intrepidly. The 'Game reserve' signs and 'No hunting zone' notices are used for target practice, and if you collect spent cartridges, just find a No hunting sign and there will be hundreds of them. I know quite a few people who live in the countryside who would love to see the law enforced, but they are too scared to speak up as they know that their pets will be poisoned and their lives will be made a misery, so they just keep quiet.

We were driving near the salt lakes on the other side of the airport one day when we saw a pair of black swans. Wow, how privileged we felt to observe theses rare birds. Then they shot them.

Intrepid Cypriot hunter - geared up to shoot sparrows
No, this is not a soldier, this a typically dressed hunter..

It is illegal to put down poison now, and so the headman of the village does it on everyone's behalf, after all , who's going to argue with the mayor ?

The rivers, when they run, are being pumped full of any effluence that an upstream factory wants to dispose of, and no one seems to care. That is not to say that no one does care, some people are doing great work in the field and general attitudes are changing, but the question is, is it fast enough before there is little left to save?

Unfortunately, those Europeans who live out in the countryside are too often afraid to report environmental abuse because they fear retribution from the perpetrators and their neighbouring villagers. After all, if it is common knowledge that those who 'break the law' are the people who actually control the local village ' government', who do you complain to? Do you love your pets ? Do you want them poisoned in the night? No.

The stories I have heard from people who have reported animals being kept in appalling conditions have so far come to naught. I have yet to be informed of any such animals being removed from their owners and those owners being banned from keeping more animals, do you know better?

Wild Donkeys of the Karpas

These are the wild donkeys of the Karpaz Peninsula which is in Northern Cyprus.

The wild donkeys of the Karpas peninsula  
 Click to enlarge

These donkeys were in the happy position of being Left alone to breed in peace for a number of years. Not only did their population increase but as you can see from the photos they are the picture of health and happiness.

Having said that, awareness is coming, with the next generation. They are the hope of the future. They realise that soon there will be nothing left for them to cherish if they do not act now to change attitudes.

Not too long ago dogs and cats were used as target practice, especially by peoples cars, but now  many Cypriot people are beginning to cherish them as pets. Protection societies are getting support for donkeys, cats and dogs. Organisations are going into schools and teaching the kids that animals should be cared for and this is paying off. I have also noticed that many more parents are making an effort not to pass on their fear of dogs, they were taught this by their parents, as in days gone by a dreadful disease called hydadid cyst was prevalent in Cyprus and carried by dogs, one lick and the tiny parasitic creatures which lived in the dogs saliva would be passed to the human. Nasty, slow and lethal. Not surprising that if you saw a dog you crossed the road and/or threw stones at it. (well that was the story anyway!)

The Akamas is currently a nature reserve and one hopes will remain so, but the debate is raging between conservationists and big business, who wish to develop the area for tourism. So far only one main development has been allowed and allegedly the main shareholder is the person who's responsibility it was to refuse permission. Blatant or what!

The  turtles of the Akamas are being exploited by some as a tourist attraction , which could be the end of them, we would ask you please, please if anyone offers to take you to see them, don't go. Look at these pictures instead, and think of how you have helped these vulnerable creatures to survive. The government is doing a good job with the turtles and we hope they will continue to support their protection.

The unpleasant practice of liming still goes on, even though it is illegal since 1974 - they mix the mixture, and go out at night to place sharp sticky spears in trees to impale unsuspecting birds ! All birds are caught this way, owls, hawks, tiny amberopoulia, (migratory songbirds) a delicacy here which is an important social statement and fetches a high price for a free lunch..

The number of poachers who were actually caught and prosecuted
 The total number of cases for poaching on the island for 200 & 2001 was 326, 132 of those involved lime stick or illegal trapping methods

Proactt published figures for 2000/2001





Total poaching


Cases involving illegal trapping, netting, liming or use of illegal devices



Lefkosia (Nicosia)





Lemessos (Limassol)










Ammochostos (Famagusta)




















Lefkosia (Nicosia)





Lemessos (Limassol)










Ammochostos (Famagusta)













Proact is 'a non-political, independent and voluntary organisation committed to coordinating and monitoring support for selected environmental campaigns in Europe and its periphery; and ultimately, through national and regional coordinators, worldwide. Their prime, but not exclusive concern, is the conservation of birds and their habitats.

Campaigning for birds and their habitats worldwide.


We are in favour of trees, those wonderful slow friends who produce the oxygen we all breath, the lungs of the planet, some simile currently with a planet that smokes......
If you can help out with the re-planting of our friends the trees please e-mail;
  people AT 

If you are in favour of saving the rain forests and have anything to put towards this lofty scheme, we decided that the way to save it is to buy it - please see our latest hair brained scheme here.

Spiders and cockroaches

Yes we do have some pretty big spiders and humungous cockroaches in Cyprus, but the cockroaches which are huge are from the fields, they are not the same as domestic cockroaches. In fact they do live in the drains and keep the pipes nice and clean. You may see one crawling up through your plughole but they are more likely to fly in the window.

We have tarantulas and camel spiders, or what we call camel spiders, which look rather like this A pretty good depiction of  what we call a camel spider in Cypruspicture below. The tarantulas look about the same but are usually quite black. There are certain areas where they are said to live and although you may come across a dead one, you are unlikely to see a live one as they are pretty shy (thank goodness). On moving into a new, old house in Larnaca, I found 2 in the first week. After bagging it under a pot and bribing a local child to take them to a field and release it, we have not seen another in 12 years. Of course I made an offering to the Spider protection god of a banana tree, which I planted in the yard (I had heard that Tarantulas like to live in them) and this did seem to do the trick.

You will spot the bats at dusk, eating the mosquitosThe bats come out at dusk and swoop down for midges and mosquitoes. They play a huge part in keeping the insect population down, so be nice to them. I have never found a bats hiding place during the day yet,  even though we seem to have a whole colony of them at the office. The oasis which is the office and MD's home is being pulled down in order to make way for a block of flats and we would just like to show you this oasis in the centre of Larnaca. Home to a small zoo of wildlife.

It has since been 'cleaned'!

Green oasis and wildlife sanctuary in the centre of  Larnaca in CyprusGreen palm tree oasis and wildlife sanctuary in the centre of  Larnaca in CyprusGreen oasis and wildlife sanctuary in the centre of  Larnaca in Cyprus with figs, palm and climbing creepers



Snakes of Cyprus


It has been brought to our attention that the harmless native grass snake Natrix natrix Cypriaca is under severe threat of extiction.

Although the species Natrix Natrix is fairly widespread throughout Europe, the Cypriaca Natrix is not the same thing at all. It differs in all the ways that matter, colour, size, scales, behaviour and pattern. It seems to be as much as water snake as a land snake as it escapes predators by hiding in the water. The only unpleasant habit it has, (as do all grass snakes) is behaving like a skunk. It had the capability of unleashing a foul smell from a gland at the end of its tail.

These shy creatures still live at the Paralimni Lake and (hopefully) at The Xyliatos Dam. They had apparently survived despite the DDT treatment of Cyprus water prior to the 1950's and '60's and were rediscovered in 1992 says Snake George after they were all thought to have been lost. The introduction of Carp and Bass into the dams seems to have been a mixed blessing. On the one hand the dams themselves provide sanctuary, whilst the Carp and Bass not only prey on the snakes food but they also destroy the underwater vegetation which is an important part of the eco system, providing a habitat for insect larvae and other food sources. Pesticides and development are also taking their toll. To find out more about this remarkable snake and its life cycle, please visit this government site. (Gone)


Now, the site referred to above did state that: a captive breeding program was initiated to enhance the breeding success of this species.


Are they referring to the program Snake George was running before he was evicted from his Paphos site - 'because the tenure of the land was subject to forfeit by the owner.' (whatever that means!)

The call has gone out to us all to protest strongly that the government is not doing enough. To leave this important Cypriot native species in the hands of an individual, however well qualified and well meaning without ' putting him on the payroll' seems to mean that not much (if anything) is actually being done.

It has been reported to us that ' as published in the Cyprus Press that the EU is intending to take legal action against the Republic of Cyprus for failure to protect and conserve this Cyprus species in Cyprus.

The government states that states that this species is protected by law, however, a law against anything needs to be implemented, we know only too well that the law pertaining to the slaughter of amberopoulia (a Cypriot delicacy consisting of small songbirds) is in place, but ministers and aficionado's still partake in secret and in one case are actually served by an ex policeman, so we implore anyone who gives a fig to make their voices heard. The Environment Commissioner for Cyprus is currently a  Mr. Charalambos Theopemptou

If you see him, make your views known, if you would like to be a bit more pro active, write to him - perhaps via

Cyprus Social Ecology Movement
gr.greens AT Tel. 99653634 Fax. 22519400 Nicosia

Nothing much will happen without us all taking the trouble to act.
Please help save the wildlife of Cyprus and the world.


Please see more here as this page was getting too big.


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Cyprus has plently of adventurous activities for you to enjoy whilst on holiday - or take a break on your business trip - riding to kayaking, mountaineering to diving.

    More pics would be very welcome , as would comments or info.   

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