NICOSIA (Reuters) - Conservationists who found 10 wild donkeys shot dead in northern Cyprus said on Wednesday the rare breed could disappear entirely if hunters continued to shoot them for sport.
Environmentalists in the Karpas region believe many more of the brown donkeys had been killed since a 2003 study counted some 800 living in the wild.
“Hunters are shooting at them for fun and farmers are killing them because they damage their crops,” said Dogan Sahir, head of the Turkish Cypriot branch of the Green Action Group.
The north Cyprus environmental ministry said a new count would be carried out in the wake of the killings.
Locals alerted Huseyin Yorganci, a local activist, to the hunting.
“There are many more out there, but we have only been able to reach ten by car,” he told Reuters. “Locals phoned us and told us dead donkeys were being found in the area and warned that if we didn’t act quickly there would soon be none left.”
The donkeys normally shy away from human contact. The breed is believed to be unique because it has managed to survive in the wild unassisted by humans since escaping from owners hundreds of years ago.
Reporting by Simon Bahceli, editing by Chloe Fussell