Cypriot villagers block international environmental program for turtle protection

Source: Xinhua| 2019-07-27 02:48:23|Editor: huaxia
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NICOSIA, July 26 (Xinhua) -- A group of residents of a village in western Cyprus who were led by the community leader on Friday turned away international environmentalists who were carrying out a program funded by the Council of Europe for the protection of turtles, the police said.

The environmentalists complained that the locals, led by the Argaka village leader, Spyros Pelopidas, forcibly prevented a group from putting protective aluminum cages over turtle egg nests and then reported them to the police for illegally filming the incidents.

This was the second incident between the village leader and environmentalists, after he forced them to leave the beach a week ago, accusing them of placing more cages than warranted by existing nests, so as to cash more money.

The first incident provoked a reaction by the government, which instructed the police to investigate complaints by the environmentalists. A report was handed to the Attorney General who will decide whether court action will be taken.

The villagers of the area are at war with environmental organizations, accusing them of preventing tourist development of the villages in the region, which includes a large forest national park and several sandy beaches on which the turtles lay their eggs for hatching.

The head of the turtle program said that after installing less than 10 cages, the environmentalists left the beach, fearing that the situation could get out of hand.

The environmentalists told local journalists that the police failed to give them adequate protection and took the side of the Argaka village leader, who said he would sue them for taking pictures and video of him without his consent.

Several beaches along the Argaka community coast are part of the wider special area of conservation protected by the European Natura 2000 legislation as an important breeding site in the Mediterranean for the endangered Loggerhead (Caretta Caretta) and Green turtles (Chelonia mydas).

The area has been a constant source of concern for environmental groups because of the illegal construction of beach bars and placement of sea beds and umbrellas on protected beaches. Enditem