Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ancient map of Crete

The Bearded Vulture

Pure Crete website, has funded thousands of leaflets in English to raise awareness and money to help to protect the Cretan Bearded Vulture. The Bearded Vulture, or Lammergeier, was once found in mountain regions across Europe, Asia and parts of Africa, but is now an endangered species and only survives in a few areas. One of these is Crete where 31 birds are left. The Bearded Vulture is the only bone-eating bird in the world - dropping bones from hundreds of feet to shatter them before descending to eat. `The bone breaker' has a wingspan of 2.8 metres and its narrow wings allow it to reach great altitudes to reign majestically and peacefully in the Cretan skies.

It has reddish yellow or white plumage on the head and breast with a grey black tail and wings. Its black forehead and beak forms the distinctive appearance of a beard.

The vulture reaches adulthood after 6 or 7 years, and lays two eggs between December and January, one of which will normally survive. Its natural lifespan is 40 years. The Lammergeier displays no predatory behaviour and has no natural predators but faces extinction due to man. Destruction of natural habitats, poisonous baits by shepherds, egg stealing by collectors, tourist disturbance and high voltage cables all take their toll.

That is why Pure Crete through the `Immediate Intervention for the Protection of Nature'* has acted to raise awareness and funds to protect the Bearded Vulture in Crete. We hope other companies will follow our lead.

* An EU charity working in partnership with the Greek government to intervene to protect endangered indigenous species.


Loggerhead Turtle in Crete

As visitors to Crete, we all have a responsibility to help to preserve the indigenous environment and species. That is why Pure Crete has pioneered schemes to help protect the endangered loggerhead turtle in Crete.
Turtles have existed since the dinosaurs - some 200 million years - but now face the threat of extinction unless stretches of beach where they lay their eggs are protected from disturbance. That is why Pure Crete funded a turtle hatchery, in Gerani on the north-west coast of Crete, through the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece.
Loggerhead turtles grow up to 100kg in weight and 90cm in length. Each population is genetically distinctive, and hatcheries enable the stretch of beach to which they habitually return to be protected.
The Loggerhead turtles around Crete nest from the end of May to mid-August. Each adult female lays eggs every 2 or 3 years, and may lay 120 eggs at a time, twice or three times in that season. If a turtle is disturbed by human activity when she comes ashore she will postpone her egg-laying and ultimately abort her eggs in the sea where they will be lost. In any case, only one in a thousand hatchlings entering the sea survive to adulthood due to predatory seabirds and fish and it then takes between fifteen and twenty years for a turtle to reach sexual maturity!
It is therefore important to protect the nesting habitat of the Loggerhead turtle and we hope that you support the work Pure Crete has done to ensure eggs are successfully laid and hatched.