Snakes of North Cyprus

As the month of May is usually the time of year such things to come out of their hibernation slumber, we thought we would give you a run down of the various species of snake that you may come across in North Cyprus!  Those of us who live here are fairly familiar with the varieties that we may all come across and, as most of them are pretty harmless, we would advise you not to panic should you come across one! Most of us treat snakes with a kind of scared disgust, imagining them to be slippery reptiles that will leap out of bushes and bite us, when in all honesty all they want is to be left alone to live quiet lives! [Read more...]

Turtle Watching in North Cyprus

The yearly arrival in North Cyprus of the turtle population brings about hectic activity by marine groups, volunteers and the general public!  Beaches all over the island are cleared and made ready for female turtles which come to nest all across the shores of North Cyprus.

There are two types of turtles which come to nest in North Cyprus and these are the loggerhead (Caretta Caretta) and green sea (Chelonia Mydas) turtles; they make the yearly journey to nest and then return to the sea, leaving their eggs deep in the sand to hatch.  Environmental groups have been active since 1992 in helping to protect these precious and endangered creatures, monitoring the hatchlings to ensure that their survival is as guaranteed as much as possible.

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North Cyprus Birds

North Cyprus is a must-visit for bird lovers because it’s a major migration route for many species, and it’s also a permanent home for many others.  The majority of migration is from March through to May when you will see northward migration, and then again between August and October when you can see the migration heading southwards.  However, it is entirely possible to see birds migrating beyond these months.

There are many places to bird watch, and a visit to any of the mountain castles in North Cyprus will give you a great view from which to watch for these birds – as well as providing you with a great day out walking in history.

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North Cyprus Wildlife

North Cyprus is host to an eclectic mix of unusual wildlife, and some fascinating species can be seen at any time of year.  North Cyprus is also home to common and recognisable species such as hedgehogs, foxes and tortoises, although the latter is not native to the island but was probably brought from Turkey and left free to roam the countryside!

There are an abundance of butterflies and also mammal, reptile and sea species, and you can find examples of wildlife anywhere in the mountains and along the unpopulated coastal areas.  North Cyprus is also famous for its wild flowers, especially the rare orchids that attract travellers from all over the world.

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North Cyprus Flora

North Cyprus has a huge variety of stunning flora, much of which you can see in any garden or field.  North Cyprus is also home to many species of orchids, with visitors and eager botanists coming from far and wide to find them on the hillsides and mountains in the spring.

Springtime, or anytime after February, is special in North Cyprus with many plants and trees bursting into bloom, and you can often walk through carpets of anemones, rock roses and other colourful flowers such as iris and narcissi.  North Cyprus is also well known for its tulips, and a Tulip Festival is held yearly in Tepebaşı which is a village located between Kyrenia and Güzelyurt on the north west of the island.

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North Cyprus Herbarium

North Cyprus has its own Herbarium, located at the Alevkaya Forest Station up in the mountain area between Esentepe and Değirminlik on the east coast.  The first Herbarium in Cyprus was actually located in Lefkoşa, and its collection was built over many years during the British colonial era, but it was subsequently cut off from North Cyprus in the divisions of 1974.

The current Herbarium has been open to the public since 1989, and it was the culmination of efforts by one Dr. Deryck Viney, a one-time British resident who lived in the village of Karaman.  He worked with other foreign experts and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to develop the project.  Dr. Viney, a qualified botanist and a true English gentleman, (to those of us who have had the pleasure of knowing him), spent many years studying and documenting the flora of North Cyprus and publishing his findings in various books such as ‘An Illustrated Flora of North Cyprus.’  He also had the benefit of help from personnel at Kew Gardens.

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Hunting in North Cyprus

Love it or hate it, both sides of the island of Cyprus have a culture of hunting, and one which has been embraced for many generations.

There are two and more recently even three (a summer season has been known) hunting seasons in North Cyprus, and at the time of writing the first seasons ran from late November through to late December, with hunting only allowed each Sunday.  Normally running from October, the 2008 season has been shortened due to concerns about the lack of game available as a result of the recent long hot summers which have affected game breeding rates.

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North Cyprus National Park

The National Park of North Cyprus is located on the Karpaz Peninsula and is an extremely important biologically diverse area, as well as being historically and archaeologically rich as well.  You can find many birds within the National Park, as well as rare flora and fauna and feral donkeys which are allowed to roam free.

The Karpaz National Park has been recently designated as a Special Protected Area in line with EU regulations.  Ecologically the area is home to more than 100 rare species of flora, and its beaches are also important nesting sites for the Loggerhead (Caretta Caretta) and Green Sea (Chelonia Mydas) turtles.  Historically within the national park area remains of the Kastros, the first human settlement on the island of Cyprus, have been found too.  So you can clearly see just how significant and important a region of Cyprus the National park truly is.

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