Good News : Land is available for Cyprus Reptile Project
An exclusive article by John Mason who is the editor of the Cyprus Reptiles web site.
Since Snake George had to close his Reptile Park in Ayios Georgios, Peyia, a number of landowners have either offered land or made commercial proposals to George for re-establishment of his reptile park or for a captive breeding site for the endangered reptiles of Cyprus.
Some of these have been referred to in various articles on the internet but it would seem that for one reason or another none of these opportunities have, so far, been able to proceed. A Google search will reveal references to monastery land in Ayios Neophytos, another in Kritou Terra and one in Tsada to name but a few.
In an interview with the Cyprus Mail in January 2009, Snake George said “For the last three years, I’ve been trying to find a suitable piece of land, but all I get are empty promises. First it was the land opposite the park, then in Peyia, Tala and Yeroskipou. Promises are made, and then at the last moment, nothing happens.” Land was available near the monastery of Agios Neophytos, and it appeared that the park was saved. Then the Muchtar showed up with a petition from 1500 villagers saying that they didn’t want the park there – they were afraid that the snakes might escape.”
In September 2009 my wife and I offered Snake George the use of 10,000 m2 in Choletria. He has now said that we should try to establish a project on this site.
This was the subject of an interesting discussion thread on Cyprus Snakes which was exchanged on the popular Paphos Forum, CyprusLiving, which is generously run by well known Paphian, Jim Cross.
The story goes that Snake George went to see the Mayor of Choletria who welcomed the opportunity of bringing the benefits of tourism and, in particular, agrotourism to his village. Unfortunately he was personally uncertain as to the location of the land and everyone else that George was subsequently introduced to wanted to sell him land instead !!!
When I finally found out what had happened (and laughed a lot) I took Snake George and his assistant, Linda Crossley to the land which we extensively surveyed over two days this November.
The best access is over a century old agricultural track which quaintly runs along the boundaries of adjoining plots which crucially does not require the legal grant of access.
Both George and Linda had no doubts that Choletria was in a wonderful strategic position being on a main route to the Troodos, East of Paphos, West of Limassol, near the A6 Motorway and incredibly just ten minutes from Paphos International Airport.
Linda was also impressed by the wonderful views over the Xeros Potamos River Valley which are second to none in Cyprus in an unspoilt paradise.
George said to me “My friend you have offered a fantastic piece of land in Choletria. It is a paradise. For such a project like this nothing could be better, and as you know land has been a problem for the project. With no charge and no rent for a really long term this is of course is one of the most important questions for this project. Let us see what we can achieve in the near future.”
Nick Symons, the Director of CESC (The Cyprus Environmental Studies Centre), which could be a bidder for funding from the Cyprus Government under the EU LIFE Project for both the captive breeding programme for the Cyprus Grass Snake, the Cyprus Whip Snake and the River Terrapin and the education and awareness project said;
“The land in Choletria is indeed of great interest and I am thrilled with your idea to dedicate it to the reptiles in perpetuity. I believe it would be a good location for both educational and scientific aspects, and naturally we would aim to fund-raise for the full cost of developing it for those purposes. I think it would also make any proposal much stronger if the Government and funding body could see clear evidence that the land issue is already covered.”
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