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The country about Kuklia, Pysouri, Baffo, and the Maratassa valley are the parts of the island where game most abounds.
Hitherto neither game or fish have been preserved in any way, and both shooting and fishing are allowed anywhere, so long as the crops are not injured. Gunpowder is, however, a government monopoly, and peasants cannot obtain it without a declaration signed before the Cadi, and other expensive formabties. Then again, the Greeks never carry guns, for a Mussulman law, strictly enforced by the local authorities, prevents Christians from bearing any other firearms but pistols, which may be worn at the girdle while travelling or after dark, as a protection against robbers. Travellers and tourists have, however, never been considered as Christians so far as this decree went. Under the new government, the establishment of a close season for game may naturally be expected. Birds of prey. Of birds of prey, eagles, vultures, buzzards, falcons, and hawks
are very common. Reptiles nud Of reptiles and noxious insects there are asps, other snakes
insects. winch are said not to be venomous, scorpions, tarantulas, and
locusts. Some travellers have related startling stories regarding the dangers to be encountered from the reptiles. Gaudry mentions that he saw an ass stung by an asp, and it died in a few hours; he also says that deaths among the natives are frequent from asp bites; that asps are generally found in the standing corn, and that reapers attach little bells to their sickles to frighten the snakes away. That venomous reptiles do exist in the island can scarcely be doubted, but most of the reports as to their number and deadliness are circulated by writers who have paid a flying visit to the island, and have lent a credulous ear to the stories of timid natives, or who have really no personal knowledge whatever of the country; whilst residents who have travelled on foot and on horseback throughout Cyprus, state positively that they have never been bitten.* The peasantry have a great dread of asps, and indeed of all snakes, as they consider them unlucky, and it is an abuost universal practice to wear high boots as a protection; still many of their tales which have been both believed and repeated are much exaggerated. General di Cesnola mentions that the site of the ancient Curium is a favourite resort of asps, and he says that once when excavating at Mulasha, a kitfi, or asp, was encountered, and the sight of it was sufficient to deter the diggers from further exploration at that spot .
A large species of snake is said to be common in the northwestern part of the island, but it is harmless; the asps are described to be of middling length, great thickness, of a blackish hue and with a blunt tail. Sonnini describes a large spider, which he calls the galcode of the Levant, as existing in Cyprus, and says that its bite is very dangerous. Dr. Clarke states that tarantulas having black bodies covered with hair, and bright yellow eyes are not uncommon.
* Dr. Clarke spent ten days in Cyprus, and gives a most melancholy account both of the climate, and of the dangers of venomous reptiles; his work has boon much quoted by pessimists, but Consul 1-ung, who resided nine years in the Maud, and travelled all over it, says that he could only find specimens of asps and tarantulas after considerable search, and that he never heard of the pernicious fevers reported by Dr. Clarke, though they might possibly havo existed before his arrival.
By far the worst enemy amongst the animal creation, that Locmti. Cyprus has to contend with, and the most injurious to agricul-' tural prosperity, is the locust. Writers of the fifteenth century mention the fearful depredations of this insect at that period. Ifi is by some imagined that it was first blown across the sea from the coasts of Caramania or Syria, and by others that it may have' beett introduced by ships bringing cargoes of grain, but afterwards the eggs were deposited in the island and the locusts remained from year to year. Although, owing to active measures of destruction, this plague has at present almost disappeared, it may be both useful and interesting to notice how only a few years ago; the island was invaded by these pests. It appears that the insect is Sd wonderfully prolific, that unless continual and active measures ate taken to extirpate it, it increases in the course of a few years in such quantities as to swarm in myriads over the whole country, but, on the other hand it is evident that with care and perseverance its almost complete destruction may be ensured. The measures adopted by Osman Pasha in 1855-56, were very successful, and consequently the island enjoyed a few years of comparative freedom from this scourge, but the precautionary measures were Subsequently neglected, and the locusts gradually increased in numbers till in .1861, the spring crops suffered fearfully from their ravages. In 1862, Zia Pasha, who was then governor of Cyprus, took the matter up actively, and, through his representations, the government was induced to grant a sum of 2,500 Turkish lire (equivalent to about £2,270) for carrying out various plans proposed for the destruction of the insect. At the same time a tax of 20 okes of locusts' eggs per head was imposed upon the inhabitants. It was calculated that by this tax at least a million of okes of eggs would be collected, and as each oke was found to contain on an average 1,800 eggs, from each of which 30 locusts are produced, the number of insects thus destroyed in the egg would be enormous.
The numbers were, however, so great that it required some years to work a change, and in 1864 we read that the locusts were still very numerous, but Consul Sandwith in his report for the year 1869 was able to state that, owing' to the energetic, measures adopted, the locusts had nearly disappeared, and Consul Lang, writing in 1871, said that these measures were still being carried on with fair success, and that the agricultural interest of the island had then a better prospect than for a loug time previously. Since that time we hear that, thanks to recent intelligent efforts, the destruction of the insect has been accomplished, and that it now only remains to watch and guard carefully against its return. It is worthy of notice that the presence of locusts iu the island, was always a standing obstacle to the proper cultivation of cotton (which might be a great source of wealth) by the delay which it necessitated in the planting of the seed, for this could not be done until the passage of the locusts across the land was over; consequently the plants did not ripen until late in the year, and at times the bolls did not open at all, from want of sufficient heat in the autumnal season. It is stated that now the cotton may be sown early in May, and so there is full time for the plant to come to maturity hefore the end of the summer.
Drs. Unger and Kotschy devote the whole of Chapter VIII, of their joint work upon Cyprus to an account of the ravages of locusts in the island; the German authors, Seiff and Von Loher also describe their depredations.
It appears that the young locusts are hatched about the end of March, and a fortnight later they commence hopping and creeping westward, destroying every leaf as they pass it; by the end of April their wings are fully developed, and the work of devastation commences, fields of corn are devoured to the very roots, and fruitful gardens entirely laid waste. In August, the eggs are deposited, and shortly afterwards the insects die. The spots where the eggs are laid can easily be detected by a shiny viscous matter, with which the locusts soften and cover the earth in which they are placed. Every female lays two or three eggs, and each of these produces on an average about 30 locusts, the egg being in fact an agglomeration of small eggs bound close together in a small oblong moss. A simple and very effective method of destroying locusts, was hit upon by a large land owner, M. Mattei. He observed that the insects could not ascend smooth surfaces, and that even when fully winged they were compelled to seek the earth at short intervals, and continue their progress by creeping and hopping; so he caused several rows of ditches about 2£ feet deep to be dug at right angles to the line of flight, and on the further side of these, screens of linen, oilcloth, &c., were erected. The locusts on trying to scale the screens generally fell back in masses into the ditches, where they were either covered with earth, or shovelled out, thrown into sacks, and buried in other spots. Those that surmounted the first screen, were generally stopped by the second, and in no case cleared the third. This plan was the means of destruction of enormous quantities of locusts, and it was adopted all over the island; both Seiff and Von Loher testify to its merits. Beet. Bees are kept in great numbers in many parts of the island;
Dr. Clarke mentions the large number of hives which he saw at a village called Attien (probably Athienou); Von Loher notices that there were quantities on the slopes below Buffavento. It is stated, however, that there has been but little encouragement to the peasantry to keep bees, for the honey is generally demanded by the governor, so that an apiary may be considered as merely an additional tax.
WOODS AND FORESTS.
Ojpnu for- From ancient writers we learn that when Cyprus was first
morlv well- colonized, the whole country was covered with forests, which were
wooded. jn certain places cleared by the Phoenicians for the double purposes
of opening out ground for cultivation, and using the timber as fuel
for smelting copper. From historical accounts it also appears that the ancient rulers of Cyprus, whether Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Romans, Arabs, or Byzantines, all gave particular care and attention to the cultivation and protection of the fine forest trees which then contributed so materially to the prosperity of the island; consequently, not only did stately pines and other trees cover the whole of the mountain ranges, but the entire plain was also clothed with a dense mass of forest.
The modern traveller in Cyprus would, however, have some Destruction of difficulty in realizing that this had really been the case, for except the tomto. on the Olympus range in the south-west part of the island, and on some of the slopes of the Cerinea and Karpas mountains, the island is now wholly denuded of forests, and so bare and treeless is the Messaria plain at the present day, that it is by no means easy to appreciate its former condition. Cyprus has undoubtedly in many ways suffered much at the hands of her recent owners, but in no partictdar is this fact more clearly evidenced than in the utter destruction of the forests.
It is said that it was during the two first centuries of the Lusignan dynasty, the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, that the first serious attack was made upon the luxuriance of the Cyprian forests; at this period ship-building was carried on to an enormous extent, and no pains were taken to replace the trees used for this purpose.
The Venetians, who came next, were also great shipbuilders, but had sufficient foresight to undertake a certain amount of planting; their tenure of the island was, however, comparatively short, in 1572, Cyprus fell under Turkish rule, and then at once commenced the ruthless destruction which, were it continued much longer, could only end in the conversion of the island into an arid waste. Von Loher supplies us with details concerning the various ways in which the improvidence and carelessness of the Turks have caused the disappearance of the forests.
It appears that year after year the pashas, kaimakams, and agas have increased their revenues by cutting down the trees, and leaving those which they could not sell to be appropriated by whoever chose to take them. Every maritime disaster entailed fresh demands upon the Cyprian forests; if a hundred trunks were wanted, a thousand were felled, it being slightly easier to select the finest trees when lying on the ground than when upright, the best were then taken away, and the remainder left to rot where they lay. The forests were under no protection from government, and the poorer classes have derived a considerable portion of their livelihood from the sale of the trees, which they cut down when they please; near every village, or inhabited spot, the spoliation of the surrounding timber is evident; the small trees have all been cut down at the roots, whilst the larger ones which would entail some labour to fell, have had all their branches and bark hacked off. During the temporary occupation of the island by Egypt under Mehemet Ah, 1832-1840, the work of destruction continued with, if possible, increased activity, shipments of timber to Egypt being permitted and encouraged. But, in addition to all this, a very large proportion of
Means of restoring the forests.
the forests have been destroyed simply though either carelessness or wanton mischief. Fires in the woods are of very frequent occurrence, they are generally kindled by the wandering shepherds or. their families, who make not the slightest attempt to check the devastation which often ensues. Von Loher mentions that he rode through several charred and blackened districts, where it was quite evident that the progress of the fire had only been arrested by there being no more trees or shrubs to burn; he also says that the inhabitants of different villages often set fire to each other,s trees or shrubs in order to avenge a quarrel. Fine trees meet with the same fate simply for the pleasure of seeing them burn, and it is stated that this is an amusement frequently indulged in by ignorant and unreflecting shepherds, in order to while away their time spent on the mountains.
The forests of dark pines which formerly clothed the mountain sides have also fallen victims to the foolish and reckless manner in which the tar burners and resin distillers carry on their business. Von Loher says, " Operations are commenced by stripping off the bark on one side, the finest trees being always selected, ns high as the man can reach, and the resin taken. Fire is then applied to the base of the trunk, and a few hours suffice to lay it low. The branches are then lopped off, and with portions of the trunk, are heaped into a roughly constructed oven formed of quarried stone. Fire is then applied to the wood, and the resin pours forth into a little channel cut to receive it. The first fruits of this process are called kolophonium, and the second, resin, whilst the last result forms a kind of tar. Half the resin is, of course, wasted in this rough process, and when the devastators have taken of the best the hill-sides afford, they climb down to another green and luxuriant spot, there to recommence their work of destruction." Gaudry says that if a peasant wishes to sow some grain up in the mountains, he simply burns down the trees which stand on the spot, and their ashes serve to enrich the soil for a few years, during which it is cultivated, and when this piece of land is worked out, the same process is repeated in another place, and so on.
To restore the forests to anything like their former condition will be the work of many years, and may at first involve a heavy expenditure; in the end, however, it cannot but prove remunerative, not only as regards the actual value of the timber itself for manufacturing purposes, but also on account of the influence which the existence of forests would have upon the climate. This last subject has been considered in Chapter VI.
To effect the restoration of the timber supplies of the island, not only will whole districts have to be replanted, but it is suggested that all the existing woods and forests should be put under the immediate protection of the government, and their culture and general management entrusted to efficient persons; every act. of wanton destruction should be punished, boundary lines round the villages should be fixed, and restrictions placed upon the present trade in resin. Opinions regarding the best trees to plant in the island have been freely offered since our occupation of Cyprus commenced. In the selection of these trees, great care will be required, for various