Cyprus wildlife

pictures on this page from Cyprus Tourism organisation

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.
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, 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.



Probably the most famous mammal on the island and its landmark. It lives in the Troodos mountains but is rarely seen in freedom. The mufflon is a shy mountain sheep, very nimble and skilled in climbing . Its male

carries enormous, curved horns. Contrary to all other vertebrates it survived on the island from the antiquity until today. Scientists discovered in the settlement of Khirokitia bones of wild sheep's. It is assumed that these sheep came to Cyprus as domestic animals of the Neolithic settlers and then grew wild. It has always been a popular hunting object due to its tasty meat. Its number was decreased during the medieval period until only 20 specimen were counted during the British rule. The mufflon was declared a protected animal. Today around 800 specimen were counted. In Stavros tis Psokas and Platania a few mufflon are kept in spacious fences to give visitors the opportunity to watch these shy and rare animals.


In the forest and Macchia areas live a number of small animals like, foxes, rabbits, squirrels and weasels while the hedge-hog wanders around in the coastal areas. A rare, indigenous specie is the Cyprus Mouse which lives in the rocky, dry regions of the island. It carries on its back, within the fur, little thorns that gave it the name.
A number of bats inhabit the island's coast and mountain areas.
Reptiles and Amphibians Frogs, toads, lizards like the chameleon and snakes can be found in large numbers. Snakes and lizards are well adjusted to the dry environment. Some of the snakes lie dormant during the summer and escape in this way the heat. A very common, harmless snake is the Black Adder which is one of the longest in Europe and can be found in Macchia and Phrygana. One of the dangerous poisonous snakes in Cyprus is the Levante Adder living in the same areas and in the forests.


Sea Life More than 200 different species are present in the waters around Cyprus. Sea-urchins and the starfish, the sword-fish and the red mullet, squid, octopus and shrimps are only a few to be named.
Turtles The Lara-Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches of Cyprus, situated about 5 km north of Avagas, has always been the breeding-place for turtles. When it was recognized that this specie is treated to die out measures where taken to protect the turtles. In 1971 the Fishery Department of Cyprus declared the turtles a protected species. End of the seventies the Lara-Project was founded for the protection of these animals which is financially supported by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
Two kinds of turtles lay their eggs on the north-west coast of Cyprus. The chelonia mydas and the caretta.



Beginning of June the first turtles appear during night at the beach, dig slowly a up to 80 cm deep hole into the sand and lay between 100 and 130 eggs. Then they disappear into the sea but return three to five times during that season. After the season has finished it might take up to three years to return to the same breeding place.
Conservationists try to protect the nests from foxes or birds with cages from wire until the young ones are hatched out. After 7-8 weeks the young turtles hatch out and hurry in the dark of the night into the sea. This is the time when most of them become victims of other animals.                                                                                                                                                                                         The chances of survival for the estimated 6000 young turtles yearly are considerably low. Conservationists help them on their first step by taking the turtles into the sea where they have to continue the battle on their own. The female turtles return to their birthplace after 15 to 30 years to lay eggs. Turtles, found on other beaches of the island are being brought to Lara beach. In order to increase the survival chances, the young turtles are now kept in cages in the sea until they reach a certain size. If these actions will actually help the turtles remains to be seen.


Insects Very rich is the family of insects on the island. Only the butterflies amount to 50 different species. It is assumed that Cyprus is a resting place for butterfly swarms on their passage from Africa to South-Europe in spring time. Some of the endemic species are the rare Black-Veined White Butterfly and the Brown Argus which can be found only in the higher regions of the Troodos mountains or the Cyprus Silver Line Butterfly in the foothills of Troodos.


Also the opulence of different birds is due to the geographical position of the island. It is visited every year by millions of migration birds. Some stay only shortly to rest and then move on. Others spend the winter here, like the robin, the song-thrush and the pink flamingo. The pink flamingos, which are a typical sight on the salt-lakes of Larnaca and Akrotiri., reach Cyprus in November and return to their homes in March. More that 350 different bird species are counted, 50 of which are permanent guests.

Birds of prey such as the imperial eagle, vultures or the kestrel can be found in the mountain areas of Troodos. Popular targets for hunters is the woodcock, the pheasant and the quail. The hunt for these birds is restricted to certain months a year. Many species of birds are threatened to die out as a result of the increasing number of disappearing biotopes and the Cypriot enthusiasm for hunting.



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