Financial Mirror (Cyprus)

Endangered monk seal population growing


Agricultur­e Minister Costas Kadis has welcomed the endangered monk seal population reaching its highest number recorded in Cyprus, now boasting 19.

The endangered monk seal population (Monachus Monachus) has reached 19, with Kadis noting this was achieved through the protective measures implemente­d in the past few years.

Asked about measures taken to protect the endangered seals, Kadis said authoritie­s had taken steps based on experts’ suggestion­s, who arrived in Cyprus specifical­ly to study the ways of conservati­on of this endangered species.

“Since then, a number of measures have been taken, and a complete roadmap has been drawn up.”

Kadis said the authoritie­s had implemente­d all of the suggestion­s put forward by experts.

He hoped the population growth of this emblematic species would continue.

Last year, Kadis proposed the expropriat­ion of private property in the Sea Caves area in Peyia, a breeding site for the seals.

Developers had been building luxury villas above the breeding caves.

Other measures previously taken to protect the Sea Caves’ biodiversi­ty include a decree that forbids fishing and motorboat access in the area.

The government, however, has been accused by animal rights organisati­on of not doing enough to protect the seals.

Cyprus Greens have criticised the government for relaxing planning permits and ignoring the seal protection plan.

According to reports in Turkish Cypriot media, a breeding site in the north with four adults and three pups were identified in three of the eight sea caves which were monitored.

The Mediterran­ean monk seal is one of the world’s most endangered marine mammals, with fewer than 600 individual­s currently surviving.

Mediterran­ean monk seals primarily seek refuge in inaccessib­le caves, often along remote, cliff-bound coasts. Such caves may have underwater entrances not visible from the waterline. It is particular­ly sensitive to human disturbanc­e, with coastal developmen­t and tourism pressures driving the species to inhabit increasing­ly marginal and unsuitable habitat.

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