With the arrival of the first migrating flamingos at the Larnaca saltlake the Larnaca tourism board is trying to spread the message that disturbing the birds while there might well lead them to disappearing from Cyprus altogether.
“People now step into the lake, and this is a recent phenomenon,” a representative of the Larnaca Tourism Board said on Thursday. “People might think the birds are disturbed by the road and the airport, but that is not the case. They consider the lake their shelter and if people disturb this they will migrate from Cyprus and not return.”
“The reason they come here is to rest and feed,” Elena Markitani from BirdLife Cyprus explained “and they are very sensitive to disturbance. If they are not able to rest, and they are not at the moment, not only will they leave but it affects their ability to reproduce when they fly back to their breeding grounds in spring.”
The tourism board fully understands that visitors want to see this unique wetland close up but they also call on people to respect the ecosystem and behave in a responsible manner.
“It is a big attraction for Larnaca and we need to protect this,” the tourism board official said,” adding that awareness is of the utmost importance. “People don’t know that what they are doing is so dangerous, and we are going to contact the department of the environment to put up some signs.”
The official explained that they will not repeat a flamingo photo competition launched last winter, but not because this disturbed the flamingos but because they are choosing a different subject this year.
“People don’t want to take pictures that much but get close to them,” she said.
“Last year for some weeks we went to the lake with binoculars and telescopes to encourage tourists and locals to watch them from a safe distance, and we might do that again this year if the situation worsens,” Markitari added.
The Larnaca tourism board calls on all those who witness actions that disturb birds to immediately contact the game fund who are on patrol day and night on 99 542774 or 99 634325.