Endangered Cyprus monk seal population growing

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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 Turkish Cypriot media, a breeding site in the north with four adults, three pups were identified in three of the eight sea caves 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.