Northern Cyprus hosts over 1600 plant specia of which 22 are endemic, 350 species of birds, of which 7 are endemic, and 26 different species of reptile and amphibia.
With an average of only 51 people per square kilometre, Northern Cyprus holds the enviable reputation of being relatively free of pollution, industry or high concentrations of population. And with 387 km of coastline and pine, cypress and marquis covered hillsides, Northern Cyprus is something of a haven for wldlife.
The two main reasons for this amazing diversity are, firstly, that Cyprus was not affected by the last ice age (which wiped out many species from areas further north), and secondly, that Cyprus forms a resting and nesting station for birds migrating between Africa and Eastern Europe.
During spring (March to May) and late summer (August to October) 300 species of birds (amounting to millions of birds) call at Cyrpus along their migratory route. Some notable examples are the Griffon Vulture, Hirundelle, Golden Oriole, Pochard, and the Cyprus Pied Wheatear.
Some areas where birdwatching is particularly fruitful are the lake areas of Gonyeli, Kanlikoy, Famagusta and Glapsides. There is a Society for the Protection of Bird in Northern Cyprus and they will advise you of where and when to go. Tel: +90 (0)392 815 7337 (only the last 7 digits are required if phoning within the Kyrenia area).
Cyprus is home to over fifty different species of butterfly. For an in-depth view visit the Butterflies of Cyprus web site.
Two endangered species of sea turtle (Chelonia mydas and Caretta caretta) every year use 80 of Northern Cyprus' beaches for laying their eggs. The Chelonia mydas turtle derives its green hue from the green sea-weed on which it feeds.
The smaller Caretta caretta feeds on small fish and crustacea. The fact that these turtles are highly sensitive to pollution and human presence shows just how remote and undeveloped much of Northern Cyprus' coastline is, particularly in the Karpaz region.
The turtles lay their eggs in the sand between June and October. If you wish to join a group to watch them, or to actively help out in the task of protecting them, please contact the Turtle Protection Society on (+90 (0)392) 815 2496 or 815 5135 for more info on turtles visit.
In the Karpaz National Park area (Pan handle) live donkeys which roam wild and number about 250. Generally they are black, but are sometimes ginger and are of a breed unique to Cyprus. Approach them with care.
There are several species of small lizard which on warm days (which is most days) you will see scurrying about in pursuit of insects.
In most countries these are affectionately known as Geckos. If you are very sharp eyed you may spot a chameleon, camouflaged to the colour of whatever he might happen to be sitting on, eyeing you back with his swivelling eyes.
And yes, there are some snakes. The most common is perfectly harmless. It is black and tends to quickly get out of your way if you should disturb it. But another, the blunt-nosed viper, which is sandy coloured and tends to stand its ground when approached, is highly poisonous.
The rule is, if the snake gets out of the way, don't worry about it. If it doesn't, then you're the one that gets out!
There are about 200 varieties of fish in the waters around Northern Cyprus. For this reason you will find many fishing boats in the harbour of Kyrenia and elsewhere. Large specimens of tuna fish are often caught.
Usually the fishermen sell their catch as soon as it is landed directly to whichever local restaurant is first to hear about the catch. This also means that you can always find daily fresh fish in the market places.
The visitor may count himself lucky if he sees a moufflon, a symbol of Cyprus, in captivity, let alone in the wild. The indigenous species of sheep still exists, and attempts are being made to preserve it in an animal park in Catalkoy.
Foxes and hares abound, and hedgehogs are common. The species of hare in Cyprus has long ears and is a colonist from North Africa.
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