847 Signatures Now on Petition to save the Cyprus Grass Snake
The petition says: “Snake George is desperately worried about the high risk that the endemic Cyprus Grass Snake will become extinct and realises that the Republic of Cyprus is simply not taking the necessary action to give it a real chance of survival.”
Snake George, whose name is Hans-George Wiedl is a conservationist whose speciality is reptiles.
He is proposing much stricter protection of habitats, combined with a really well-planned captive breeding programme to safeguard the genetic stock. His focus is on the area around Paralmni Lake, which is being developed to the detriment of the grass snake (Natrix natrix cypriaca).
The petition will be delivered to the Government “as soon as possible as a real show of support for this critically endangered and beautiful animal,” he said. Snake George warned last month that the species was under threat.
He said: “The whole environment around the lake has changed for the worst. I would not be surprised if the grass snake at Paralimni has disappeared altogether.” He said that even if there was still a small number of grass snakes in the area they would soon disappear.
Earlier this week environmental services officer Charalambos Hadjipakos warned deputies at the House that he had received reports that people with “twisted minds” had been shooting grass snakes at the Paralimni Lake.
Pantelis Hadjiyerou, Director of the Cyprus Game Fund said that he had heard similar reports but after investigating found no proof of such a phenomenon.
“There are limited chances of a person finding grass snakes, let alone killing them with a gun,” he said.
Cyprus has already been in trouble with the European Commission, which has sent a notice requiring that Paralimni Lake be designated a “site of community importance” (SCI). However the government ignored this by allowing development around the lake, which is home to the grass snake.
Barbara Helfferich, spokeswoman for the Environment at the European Commission said: “The Commission considered that the Cypriot authorities had not taken the necessary measures to protect the Cyprus grass snake, contrary to the requirements of directives on the conservation and habitats of flora and fauna.”
The Famagusta municipality under instructions from the Interior Minister has done some work to improve the site, local district officer George Antoniadis said: “We cleaned out a lot of the debris, waste from local farmers and levelled the motocross which affected the lake.”
Anyone interested in signing Snake George’s petition can do so online at http://www.cypruspetitions.com/petition_details.php?petition_id=25
By Constantinos Ioannou, Published on December 11, 2010 in the Cyprus Mail
George also told the Editor of Cyprus Reptiles “The situation at Paralimni is that they have started to clean up around the lake.”
“They have flattened the area from the motor-cross sight but the hunters are more active than ever before and is disappointing that the Government does not declare this area as a Nature Reserve Area which they promised more than 10 years ago.”
“I haven’t seen anymore Grass Snakes and I am afraid we will never see Grass Snakes at Paralimni again. In Xyliatos Dam the Grass Snake has gone and also in the streams in Troodos.”
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