Wildlife of Cyprus
“Cyprus Mediterranean forests”. World Wildlife Fund.
Located in the Mediterranean Sea, this island ecoregion is home to a variety of flora and fauna. More than 125 endemic plants are found here including the endangered Cyprus cedar (Cedrus brevifolia) and the Cyprus oak (Quercus alnifolia). The island also serves as a stepping stone between Europe and Africa for millions of migratory birds every year. Over 350 species of birds can be found here, most of which are migratory. Some 46 residents and 27 migratory species breed regularly on the island; about 10 species are endemic. The island is home to a number of mammals such as the Cyprus moufflon (Ovis orientalis ophion), which is a rare type of wild sheep found only on the island of Cyprus. Only eighteen percent of the island is covered by its original habitat. Conversion of forest to pastures, urban development, forest fires, and tourism are all causes of habitat loss and continue to be a threat to this ecoregion.
“Cyprus Ecoregion profile”. National geographic.
From high mountain ranges to low plains, the Cyprus Mediterranean Forests ecoregion includes a wide range of habitats on the island of Cyprus. Oak, strawberry, juniper, and cypress trees thrive at lower elevations. On the driest low plains in the center of the island, the shrub-like vegetation includes wild olives and carob trees. As you move higher into the mountains, pine forests provide an ideal habitat for many specialized species of plants and animals. And impressive mountain pine forests and juniper woodlands cover the mountain summits. Throughout the island, each mountain range hosts a number of plants and animals that are found nowhere else on Earth.
Cyprus is rich in most kinds of wildlife, except trees and mammals. It is an environmental necessity that the delicate balance should not be unduly disturbed, as it was by the malaria eradication scheme in the late 1940s/early 1950s. By this, I am not saying that the eradication was bad, as such, but the method was too drastic. The use of massive amounts of DDT, even in malaria-free regions (remembering mosquitoes cannot fly more than about 100 to 150 metres from their breeding area), resulted in the extinction of many insect species which upset the balance of the food chains that depended on them, including birds and mammals. In addition, the balance was also upset when wetlands were drained.