By Andria Kaddes
THE House environment committee on Wednesday heard Psematismenos, Tochni and Chirokitia residents voice their opposition over the creation of a crocodile park in their area with some 200 crocs, far less than the breeding farm that had initially been planned.
According to committee chairman Adamos Adamou, the deputies have yet to decide what stance they have on the joint Israeli and Cypriot venture that foresees a crocodile park, but will be outlining their position in writing.
“The citizens concerns were reasonable and strong, they warned us that in case authorities approve this park they will use all legal measures to prevent the creation of such a park.”
Greens MP Giorgos Perdikis said it was obvious the venture had strong political support as in an unprecedented move, the company specifically requested from the veterinary services chief that certain individuals from the department accompany them to Israel to view the farm.
“The chief, to her credit, interfered and said they should at least go at the expense of the state and not the company.”
These same individuals also went to France, Perdikis said and are fighting “to create the farm, the so called park.”
There have been serious concerns that the park, which was originally going to host 1,000 crocodiles, was going to be a front for a breeding farm to produce crocodile skin products.
“This is the only service that is so clearly in favour of licensing this park. Coincidence? I don’t think so,” he said referring to the veterinary services.
“This is an investment that Cyprus doesn’t need, it has serious environmental and social costs, it is very close to residential areas, in a housing area, right next to it, there’s a lot of problems, there’s serious problems, and welfare issues for the reptiles themselves and the final answer has to be negative.”
According to Adamou, none of the authorities have given sufficient answers as to what their stance is apart from the veterinary service that was positive. In its response to the committee it also included the minister’s decree that was sent to the Legal Services for correction and an opinion.
During the session, the company vet said the same residents who were now expressing their opposition had sold their land to the company.
Community residents are opposed to the park, as is the Larnaca municipality, Larnaca district office, animal groups and the church in the area.