Flora & Fauna of Crete
The geography and excellent climate of Crete make this island an ideal paradise for numerous species of plants and animals. The Cretan flora, in particular, is one of the richest and mostly studied in the Mediterranean area. 1706 species of flora are found growing in the Cretan land. From the latter, 178 are endemic of Crete – this means that the particular species can only be found in Crete - and an additional 38 are endemic in the wider area of Crete and the island of Karpathos.
The diversity and wealth of the local flora is impressive. Especially if one considers that although the island covers just 6% of the total area of Greece, it has more than 28% of the known Greek flora. Sea lilies, labdanum, cyclamens, Cretan tulips, and the unique herbs dictamos, malotira and matzourana, are some of the species that one can find in the island.
Equally varied is the fauna of Crete. The unique Cretan wild goat (Capra aegagrus-cretica) has a distinctive and impressive appearance. A protected species known as "kri-kri" lives in the White Mountains, the Samaria National Forest and on the islets of Dia, Aghioi Pantes and Thodorou. Other interesting mammals on the island are the Cretan marten (Martes foina-bunites), the very rare Cretan wildcat (Felis silvestris agrius) and the Cretan badger (Melesmeles-arcalus).
Alert visitors may also spot hares and hedgehogs and, if very lucky, the endangered loggerhead (caretta-caretta) sea turtle, which lay their eggs on a number of quiet beaches around the island. The magnificent Cretan golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetus) and the lammergeyer (Gypaetus barbatus), a subspecies unique to Crete, stand out among the birds. The mountains and many ravines are home to griffon vultures. Swallows and warblers are common and goldfinches are occasionally sighted. Crete is also a stopover each spring for birds migrating from Africa to Europe as well as in the autumn as they make the return flight.
Source: Hellenic Sun Editions