Fauna of North Cyprus

Fauna

The only large indigenous wild animal still in existence in the Island is the Mouflon, a variety of mountain sheep pecular to Cyprus. This animal is in a reservation in the Southern part of the Island and on the Troodos mountains. The other indigenous animals are the hare, fox, hedgehog, rat and various kinds of bats. The Island had an unenviable reputation for her abundance of snakes. Numerous snakes can be seen in the hot summer months but they are by no means all poisonous. The only really poisonous snake in the Island is a species of viper. Most of the other snakes seen in the Island are not dangerous, especially the large black one which serves a very useful purpose in preying on rats and other vermin.

There are two kinds of lizards; and blind worms and chameleons are also to be found. The small gekko, with suckers on its feet is common in older houses. Two kinds of frogs, the green tree frog and the edible frog, are also common in the Island.

On the bird life of Island one can say that Cyprus falls between two of the great bird migration routes, one from western Russia Southwards through Palestine to East Africa, and the other being the Balkan African route. As a result of this position of the Island, many interesting birds are to be observed, especially during the times of Spring and Autumn passages. Of the indigenous species the largest are vultures and eagles. The Vulture, the most common scavenger, sails for hours on end in the air currents with scarcely a movement of its large wings. It is by far the most common of its species. The Black Vulture is present in relatively small numbers. Of the eagles, two species may be seen and are not uncommon. They are the large Imperial Eagle, which feeds on small mammals and carrion and the smaller Bonelli`s Eagle, which is a much fiercer bird than its larger cousin. Occasionally Spotted Eagles visit the Island.

In the plains and open foothills larks, mainly the crested variety, are common. The small Black and White Cyprian Wheateater is conspicuous, especially in the foothill regions. Flocks of pigeons nesting in forests and cliffs are common throughout the Island.

Black Bellied Sand Grouse nest in small colonies in some of the more barren and stony parts of the Mesaoria plain. Along the coasts of the Island, Shag and Cormorant are to be seen together with numerous species of gulls. At river mouths and along the more rocky coasts small Red and Green Kingfishers can be sometimes be seen.

During Winter numerous wild fowl visit the Island; snipe, woodcock, quail, many varieties of duck and occasional bustard geese. Large number of finches and other small birds are also common Winter visitors.

Of the birds, notable for their song, the most outstanding are the Golden Oriole, Nightingale, Blue Rock Thrush and Black Headed Bunting; all to be heard early in Summer. The most spectacular and highly coloured birds commonly seen in the Island are the Golden Oriole, Bee Eater, Roller, Hoopoe, Kingfisher and Filamingo. The main part of the Island visited by Filamingos is the Larnaca Salt Lake, which is in the South of the Island.

Cyprus being an Island, has several species pecular to itself; Cyprian Wheateater, Chat, Cyprian Coal Titmouse, Cyprian Tree Creeper, Cyprian Crossbill, Cyprian Scops owl.

The seas around the Island are rich in a variety of small fish, some of them very beautifully coloured. Large fish, however, are not abundant. Of the local fish the most commonly caught are the red grey mullet, rock bream, gunard and sometimes larger fish as bonito, tunny and skate. In addition a variety of smaller fish are caught and may be observed exposed for sale.

Large spiders and centipedes exist but are not dangerous. The most dangerous invertebrate is perhaps the scorpion, which is not very common. There are numerous insects found in the Island, none of which are particularly dangerous to humans.

In Summer many hornets are to be seen, but they are remarkably mild natured and do not generally sting unless greatly sting unless greatly provoked. Night flying moths are particularly abundant.

Mammals such as the pygmy elephant, pygmy hippopotamus and wild boar dominated the island`s animal life until 2000 BC, the sole survivor being the Cyprus moufflon (Ovis musimon).

Today the most frequently seen animals are the fox, Cyprian hare and rabbit, long-earned hedgehod, Cyprian shrew and six species of bat. Occasionally dolphins are seen swimming south from Turkey.