We have a guest post for the third day running…. this is from District Councillor John Mason – about a personal scientific project he has been working on in Cyprus….
Protecting Snakes And Humans
Chris Black, the Editor of OnlineFOCUS spotted a personal video clip of mine on the internet which was about my friend Snake George who was testing a snake deterrent that I had designed.
He invited me to write an article about this diversity in my interests.
My family’s interest in Cyprus is that we spend many of our holidays there and having been an amateur herpetologist since I was 7 it was no surprise that I went to meet Snake George, real name Hans Jorg Wiedl, at his Reptile Park about 12 years ago now. George is an expert in the Snakes, Lizards and Amphibians of Cyprus. He has written many articles and at least two books.
Snake George (Hans-Jorg Wiedl) re-discovered the Cyprus Grass Snake after it had been thought extinct for nearly 40 years. Secondly he proved that the most venomous snake on Cyprus, the Blunt Nose Viper lays eggs, other than bearing live young as it had been thought and apparently proven.
George has been working hard to win the right from the Cyprus Government to establish a conservation and breeding project to save the Cyprus Grass Snake from extinction. I have run a Petition at the EU Parliament to bring this into focus for action before it is too late. There are some articles that I have written about this on http://rochfordessex.com/cyprusreptiles
Many people in Cyprus are frightened of snakes and, despite education, this will probably remain so for several generations.
The worst part is that all snakes suffer from indiscriminate killing, even the harmless ones!!
This is placing all species at risk and especially now in Cyprus the Large Whip Snake (harmless) which is a natural predator, ironically, of the Blunt Nosed Viper which is the only venomous snake in Cyprus that can endanger human life.
George and I were having coffee at the New Roots Garden Centre near Coral Bay one morning and he lamented that the product that he had been selling on as Snake Buster was ShooSnake (I think) from Australia and he had been banned for importing this by the Cyprus Authorities. He reckoned that a repellent would still help conserve snakes as they would not frequent areas where people do not want them. I agreed to research the substances used in current products under safety for use in the environment and that which could be imported into Cyprus with a chemical license and distribute for use as a pesticide.
The EU fairly recently banned practically every pesticide previously in use and licensed in the EU, which includes Cyprus.
The product that I have produced has been tested initially by George. There is scientific data which backs up the recommendation I made on the basis of my research.
There are a number of commercial snake repellents on sale in Cyprus. Some are electronic. It is not clear whether Cyprus has any natural safe snake repellents available to help people ward off snakes from their homes, business premises and gardens. If the snakes are repelled from the place then everyone is happy, especially the human.
It is a CONSERVATION PROJECT????it conserves and protects both snakes and humans!!
There are harmful materials that people might use but these are also harmful to the human species!! And environmentally dangerous.
With the knowledge I had gained at QMC, London and the ecology of Cyprus snakes I had learnt since then my independent research has been undertaken on ancient ethnobotanical archives in order to derive such a product with the safest possible attributes.
It does not involve chemicals only plant extracts which are safe for both humans and the environment but repel snakes. My research has produced a product that achieves these objectives. This is a very important project for Cyprus given the issues that humans have with snakes. I would welcome any input offered on the commercial aspects of this project.