Where to Find Incredible Native Wildlife in Cyprus
The mouflon is an endangered animal in Cyprus | © MILAIMAGES / Pixabay
Cyprus has spectacular Mediterranean weather which supports diverse fauna and flora. If you’re seeking calmer pleasures beyond the country’s sandy beaches and ancient monuments, take a look at the many green spaces and conservation projects to discover the best of the island’s wildlife.
Though the once-free-roaming animals of Cyprus have vanished, the biodiversity of the island includes a variety of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, seashells and a range of plants. Notable species unique to Cyprus include the Cypriot mouflon, the warbler bird and pied wheatear bird, and the loggerhead turtle among others. So, where do you go to enjoy the native wildlife of Cyprus?
The Troodos National Forest Park
Park, Zoo, Hiking Trail
Troodos National Forest Park is home to some 750 individual plant species, 72 of which are endemic and 12 of them exclusive to the park. The fauna here is rich and has high conservation value. You will find the protected Cyprus wheather, the griffon vulture, ravens, and Bonelli’s eagle. You can also opt to follow one of the ten nature trails, or enjoy a day out at one of the picnic sites.
The Kavo Gkreko National Forest Park
Hiking Trail, Park, Zoo
Home to different mammal species, the park boasts a wide variety of birds and butterflies. Here, you will see hares, hedgehogs, and foxes – the park also keeps different lizards and snakes. With over 80 bird species, most of them migratory, a visit to this spot is a delight for birdwatchers. Additionally, the park has about 400 plant species, 14 of them endemic and another 14 considered rare. The picnic site here is perfect for lunchtimes and taking time out to relax in nature.
Zoo is found towards the southern coast of the island. It is home to different animals from across the world, and over 300 birds. If you’re visiting with children, they will be delighted to see crocodiles, meerkats, and deer. Chickens, guinea pigs and a collection of birds can also be found here. Settle down at the playground for playtime, and at sunset, crossover and trek along the seashore.
Rizoelia National Forest Park
Rizoelia National Forest Park is covered by a variety of pine trees, and cypresses. It is also home to 184 plant species, two of which are classified rare. The park, which is located off Aradippou, hosts several animal species, among them the hare, the partridge and different reptile and small bird species. Recreation facilities in the park include a picnic area, children’s playground, walking trails, bicycle tracks, sports grounds, an amphitheatre, kiosks, and observation points.
Ocean Aquarium in Protaras
Have you ever wanted to adopt an animal? Then seearch no more – Ocean Aquarium offers that and so much more. Located in Paralimni, this site is a haven for interesting fish species including the striking emperor angelfish with dark blue, electric blue and white markings. A number of exotic bird species can be found here as well. After exploring the underwater world, you can enjoy a nature walk around the tropical gardens. There is a small outside play area that is a hit with children.
Marine Turtle Conservation Project
This conservation project is aimed at helping the nesting of green and loggerhead turtles, which are classified as endangered and vulnerable respectively. These efforts are paying off in North Cyprus, where five Natura 2000 Specially Protected Areas have been designated and are open for observation by the public. The spots are run by volunteers, who will guide you through the visit, and take you through a short documentary video about the conservation efforts. They are open to donations to help expand the project. If you are planning to visit either of the locations, it is advisable to book in advance.
Originally, the zoo was started as a private project to house Christos Christoforou’s huge collection of birds. Today, you will find not only birds, but also an extensive variety of animals from across the world. A visit to this spot will leave you feeling like you have been to Africa, Asia and some other parts of the world, and back again. From Cyprus’s mouflon to white lions, tigers, and giraffes, the zoo promises you a perfect day amid sights and sounds of nature. There is also an on-site Natural History Museum and Traditional Art Museum, with amazing artefacts, and a collection of Cyprus’s traditional pottery.
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