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Flora / Fauna

Tsakkistra is a community distinguished for its natural beauty. A distinctive feature of the area is that the flora of the area numbers approximately 180 species, while its fauna numbers approximately 85 species. What is also noteworthy is that when you visit Tsakkistra there is a chance that you will come across the unique and beautiful mouflons, a kind of goat-sheep which can only be found in Cyprus and more specifically in the most remote inaccessible areas of the Pafos forest.  

The features of the mouflon

During the summer, the mouflon has a short and smooth fur, while in winter its fur becomes thicker. In the summer its fur acquires a combination of brown and white colour, while in the winter the colour of its fur turns into brown and light grey, combined with a black stripe near its neck.     

A distinctive feature of the mouflon is its big inturned horns which reach a length of 60 cm when fully developed. One is also worth knowing that only the male mouflons have horns. In autumn, the mouflons mate and form mixed herds the populations of which range between 10 and 20 animals. They continue to live in herds for the entire duration of the winter, while in spring, when lambing approaches, they split and create smaller groups. So, in April, the female mouflons give birth to one and rarely two mouflons.

The life of the Mouflon in Cyprus

Something which is worth noting is that in the past many mouflons used to live on every hilly and mountainous area of the island. This is after all revealed, according to the Great Cyprus Encyclopaedia, by mosaics and manuscripts dated back to the ancient times. In particular, some mosaics reveal that the mouflons were known at least ever since the Graeco-Roman period. Moreover, during the medieval years, foreign visitors referred to the mouflon “ram” or “goat-sheep”. During the same period, the mouflons were also mentioned in descriptions by hunters who had been on hunting expeditions.  

In 1878, when Cyprus was occupied by the English, the number of mouflons, as the Great Cyprus Encyclopaedia adds, was significantly limited both in the mountain region of Troodos and in the Pafos forest. The situation worsened not only because the hunting of mouflons was not banned but also because new modern hunting rifles were imported, this way bringing mouflons before the danger of extinction. It is noteworthy that only 15 mouflons had remained alive by 1937 and this phenomenon led to measures which aimed at protecting mouflons. Originally the law was amended in 1938 and the forest of Pafos was declared a permanently protected zone, while shepherds and goats had to abandon the area.  

In the years that followed, the protection of mouflons became stricter. In particular, in 1967 Cyprus committed to protect mouflons by signing a document of the International Union for the Preservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Three years later, in 1970, Cyprus applied to the Committee for the Preservation of Nature and Natural Resources for a study to be conducted so that suggestions would be submitted on the matter. Nowadays, thanks to the measures taken by the Republic of Cyprus the number of mouflons presents and upward course.  

Sources:

  • Great Cyprus Encyclopaedia, vol. 1 Philokypros Publications, Nicosia 1987
  • Notes taken by the Community Council  

 
 

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