First a severe water crisis threatened to create a dire peril to both people and animals in Cyprus. Then we revealed a crisis gripping the island’s song bird population with over one million songbirds killed to make a popular pickled food dish. Now the common Cyprus grass snake, natrix natrix cypriaca in Latin, is on the verge of extinction due to a combination of the ongoing water crisis and the fact that government authorities simply do not seem to care. Cyprus News reveals that this snake species is endangered due to habitat loss near lakes like the Xyliatos reservoir and the Paralimni lake that is drying up, and loss of food sources such as toads and frogs that are disappearing along with the water.
The Cyprus grass snake is usually found in watery habitats, where the snake’s food supply live according to a leading conservationist, Hans-Jorg Wiedl, also known as Snake George.
Cyprus wildlife has been under threat for some time as a result of illegal hunting and trapping, in the case of song birds, and environmental habitat depletion for both the snakes and their amphibious prey. Now the future for wildlife on this large Eastern Mediterranean island – divided by politics – does not look good.
Even though a sum of €60,000 has been pledged by the Cyprus government to instigate a breeding program for the snakes, no funds have actually been seen by Wiedl and other conservationists who want to keep the grass snake from becoming extinct on the island.
This is not unusual for a region where water supplies are becoming scarcer. Economic development in nearby countries like Israel has resulted in depletion of natural habitats for wildlife, with some species of reptiles and amphibians becoming extinct. Overwintering ponds for amphibians and reptiles are causing some native species to disappear.
While the loss of a small creature like a grass snake may not seem so significant to some people, it could result in severe changes in the wildlife populations; including species of animals and birds that themselves feed off the grass snakes. In the end, it’s a problem of where certain animal species are on the total food chain, which could eventually apply to us human beings as well.
:: Cyprus Mail
More about wildlife and human populations: