Anger as seal pup found dead,

Cyprus Today - - FRONT PAGE - By ANNE CANALP By YASEMIN GÜLPINAR

A PRO­TECTED Mediter­ranean monk seal pup was found dead near Gemikon­ağı on Mon­day af­ter film and pho­to­graphs of the live pup at the har­bour with fish­er­men and the pub­lic were widely shared on so­cial me­dia last week.

Wildlife en­thu­si­asts’ joy at the sight­ing swiftly turned to an­gry out­cry and re­crim­i­na­tions as the news of the an­i­mal’s death spread on the in­ter­net.

The rare pup’s demise has prompted calls for bet­ter pro­tec­tion by the re­spon­si­ble state An­i­mal Hus­bandry De­part­ment, in­clud­ing ex­clu­sion zones to pro­tect breed­ing seals. New reg­u­la­tions were al­ready un­der dis­cus­sion and are now in the pipe­line.

The pup is be­lieved to have been dis­placed from its cave by a storm on Oc­to­ber 27.

The So­ci­ety for the Pro­tec­tion of Tur­tles has mon­i­tored the site since 2016 and es­tab­lished round-the-clock pa­trols to fol­low the highly ac­tive pup un­til last Wed­nes­day, Oc­to­ber 31 when a cow was ob­served and the pup dis­ap­peared.

A sec­ond storm hit the coast on Sun­day, af­ter which the pup was found dead.

A spokesman for the state An­i­mal Hus­bandry De­part­ment said: “A necropsy to as­cer­tain the cause of death was per­formed on Wed­nes­day at the Near East Univer­sity An­i­mal Hos­pi­tal in the pres­ence of a state vet and LIT­TER-pick­ers have been out in force again this week, blitz­ing rub­bish in ar­eas Karakum and Tatlısu.

The lat­est came at Girne’s Chrysokava ar­chae­o­log­i­cal area — site of a Ro­man ceme­tery and rock tombs — on Thurs­day when vol­un­teers flocked to col­lect scat­tered lit­ter. Girne Mayor Nidai Güngördü was among the group which also in­cluded stu­dents from the 19 Mayıs Türk Maarif Col­lege and civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions, all of whom were thanked by or­gan­iser Oya Kut­sal, who vowed to con­tinue ef­forts to im­prove the town in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and oth­ers.

A group of 14 joined forces last Satur­day for a clean-up at Karakum beach or­gan­ised by Café Deniz rep­re­sen­ta­tive of our de­part­ment. Pathol­ogy re­ports are not ex­pected be­fore next week.”

Sight­ings of the mon­i­tored pup with­out its mother raised con­cerns last week when the Taşkent Wildlife Res­cue and Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre of­fered to take the young­ster into care.

The of­fer was re­jected by gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and sci­en­tists in favour of leav­ing the an­i­mal in the wild to re­con­nect with its mother.

The sur­vey team, which in­cludes recog­nised monk seal ex­pert Mid­dle East Tech­ni­cal Univer­sity Pro­fes­sor Ali Ce­mal Gücü, will re­lease an of­fi­cial state­ment af­ter re­view­ing data and necropsy re­sults.

Taşkent owner Ke­mal Basat said: “Our Res­cue and Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre is now just one part of our Cyprus Wildlife Re­search In­sti­tute which in­cludes a Ma­rine Life Cen­tre, Wildlife Hos­pi­tal and An­i­mal Re­search Lab­o­ra­tory.

“We are con­cerned that a sick stray dog was spot­ted at the Gemikon­ağı har­bour where the pup first ap­peared, as there is a dis­tem­per epi­demic which also kills seals.

“A to­tal of only 500 Mediter­ranean monk seals are es­ti­mated to be left, with just seven or eight on our shores.” owner Gill Rad­cliffe. The ef­fort col­lected more than 20 bags of de­bris in just over an hour, fill­ing two rub­bish bins. Re­main­ing bags were col­lected on Mon­day by Girne Mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

On the same day, the third monthly Tatlısu “womble” saw 20 peo­ple — in­clud­ing Tatlısu Mayor Hayri Orçan and lo­cal doc­tor Kı­vanç Buhara — gather at Moon­star Restau­rant from where they took on the chal­lenge to clean the road­side verges and fields.

Col­lected garbage was dropped at a point from where it were taken by mu­nic­i­pal­ity teams to be sorted for re­cy­cling or gen­eral waste dis­posal.

The next “womble” will take place on the first Satur­day of De­cem­ber, start­ing from the café on the turn­ing to Sweet­wa­ter Bay.

Vol­un­teers at Karakum Vol­un­teers pick­ing up rub­bish from the Chrysokava area (above) and the Tatlısu area (be­low)

The Mediter­ranean monk seal pup was found dead on Mon­day

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