Local activists are sounding the alarm! The island was filled with red-eared turtles!
One of the most predatory species of turtles in the world threatens endemic vegetation and animal life on lakes and reservoirs of Cyprus. On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Department reported that Red-eared Turtles had already captured most of Lake Agios Giorgios in the Athalassa Park in Nicosia.
Red-bellied tortoise (Trachemys scripta)Is a kind of freshwater predatory turtle, from the family of American freshwater turtles. Its name is due to two elongated bright red spots near the eyes. This spot may be orange, bright yellow in the subspecies Trachemys scripta troosti (Cumberland tortoise, or Trupta turtle) or yellow, in the subspecies T. s. scripta (yellow-bellied tortoise).
The main problem is that red-eared turtles are more aggressive and competitive, compared to local species. Trachemys scripta ripen before, which creates competition for the local freshwater turtle-Mauremys capsica rivulata (Caspian Turtle).
In addition, the local freshwater turtle is already threatened by excessive pollution of freshwater habitats and lack of rain.
The red-bellied turtle not only competes with the local turtle, intercepting its habitat, but also violates the aquatic habitat due to its voracious appetite. In addition, it poses a risk to human health, since it is a possible carrier of Salmonella.
The red-bellied turtle is one of the most popular domestic animals in the world, which is the root of this problem. In recent years, more than 50 million Trachemys scripta has been imported from the United States to the 22 EU member state. Red-eared turtle is included in the 100 list of the most aggressive species in the world, published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Like many other pets, this kind of turtles are very cute and cute until they are small. However, as soon as they grow up, get rid of them. Not knowing the consequences, people let their pets into ponds and dams.
In Cyprus, the situation has become so tense that from 2016 on the basis of the EU decree, red-bellied turtles are prohibited from being brought into the territory of the island.
Despite the fact that turtles are omnivorous and can bite their owners, many still keep them at home as pets.
"Their import, as pets, from the US to other countries was very popular in the 80-ies. It was the leading species of turtles sold through the commercial industry of domestic animals, "said Margarita Hajistilli, environmental protection officer.
Since people still keep turtles as pets, and then throw them outside, the problem with the spread of turtles in nature is very acute. At present, the Environmental Protection Department is in the process of evaluating what measures should be taken to prevent a catastrophe.
We do not know the exact figures, but we have ideas about how the turtles could so quickly spread across the island. With the help of special studies, during the next year, we plan to take control of the growth of turtles of this species!
"Of course, we can not control what the public does, but the best way is to educate the public and limit the risk of new emissions of turtles from their owners."