By Evie Andreou
The community council of Achna in the Famagusta district has given the green light for the creation of a crocodile park within its boundaries, community leader Nicos Vasilas said on Thursday.
The decision was taken by the community council with six of the nine members ruling in favour of the project. But the local authority said they would reconsider in the case if there were reactions from residents.
Vasilas told the Cyprus News Agency that the community council cannot authorise per se the creation of the crocodile park, but the investors – Israeli company TSA Crocopark – needs to receive the reassurance from the local authority that they will not raise any objections after filing for the creation of the park in their area.
In the case the community was against this, Vasilas said, the company would not file for the creation of the park. He said that the company will next week present the project in detail to the residents.
“In the event there are reactions at the community gathering, then the council will reconsider the issue. If there are no reactions to the creation of the park, then the procedure for securing a town planning permit and building permit will proceed normally,” Vasilas said.
He stressed that the project concerns the creation of a theme park and that the community council had already told the company they would not agree to a breeding farm for the sale of crocodiles and for their slaughter for their skin or meat.
The company approached Achna after their proposal was rejected by the Psematismenos and Athienou communities.
The proposal concerns a 40-square kilometre theme park hosting around 100 crocodiles, with a souvenir shop, a canteen, and walking paths for the observation of crocodiles. The company proposed its creation between Achna and Vrysoules near the old Larnaca to Famagusta road.
Vasilas visited last year French crocodile park ‘La Ferme aux Crocodiles’ in Montelimar, France, to find out more. He had said that the French park attracts a lot of tourists, reportedly 300,000 visitors annually.
Those opposing the idea of such a park in Cyprus expressed fears for public safety from a possible escape of crocodiles, which also threaten the ecosystem. Others fear that once the park is established, there are no guarantees that it will not be used for breeding purposes, as numbers might spiral within a short period of time. In addition, the crocodiles require vast amounts of water.