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Birdwatching, nature conservation and consultancy in North Cyprus


Guide Profiles

Robin Snape

Robin Snape
Born and raised in Kinver, a country village in England’s Black Country. I completed my Zoology honours degree and an Environmental Biology Master’s degree at Swansea University in Wales. Swansea was a great place to study biology and through field trips on the Gower Peninsular and by volunteering with the University conservation society, with the National Trust and with the Gower Marine Mammals Project, I developed an appetite for terrestrial and marine field studies. 

In 2003 I volunteered with the Marine Turtle Conservation Project (MTCP) in North Cyprus. Here working with adult female turtles at night I got a feel for what conservation and ecological research was all about and enjoyed it so much that I returned in 2004 and 2005. I also enjoyed the ecotourism and sustainability aspects of this work, guiding tourists with marine turtles to support our work.

In 2005 using experiences gained in North Cyprus, I applied for a job with British Antarctic Survey and completed a 2.5 year contract on the outpost research station, Bird Island. Here I was chiefly working with Albatrosses, banding thousands of birds each year, tracking, taking morphometric data and undertaking diet and physiological studies. These studies, many of them established in the 1960s provide data to international commissions and NGOs such as CCAMLR and Birdlife International on the status of these endangered birds.

Measuring Egg
Taking measurements of a newly laid wandering albatross egg, Bird Island, South Georgia, December 2006.

After a second contract with BAS, this time at King Edward Point on mainland South Georgia where I established monitoring protocols for Antarctic fur seals and penguins, I returned to North Cyprus and began a part-time PhD as part of the Marine Turtle Research Group investigating biodiversity conflicts in Mediterranean artisanal fisheries

Loggerhead Turtle
Recording loggerhead turtle bycatch in the
Cypriot artisanal fishery.

I continued to lead the Marine Turtle Conservation Project through my studies and during this time I have made good progress with my work in the North Cyprus fishery, leading and collaborating on a number of publications (listed below). I have received grants in support of my work through international funders and local sponsors including USAID, People’s Trust for Endangered Species, Lloyd’s Register, the British Chelonia Group and the mobile phone company Kuzey Kıbrıs Turkcell.

Damla Beton

Damla Beton
Growing up in Cyprus, experiencing very hot and dry summers versus blooming and sunny winter and springs, I have always been fascinated by nature. This inspired my interest in biology and ecology. Consequently, I graduated from biology in 2001 and did my PhD in macro-ecology using GIS and spatial modelling systems in 2011 to predict the current distribution of Anatolian plant species and to their estimate range changes in response to various climate change scenarios.

I have always been very enthusiastic in field studies and have been carrying out fieldwork voluntarily and professionally since 1998. I strive to take every opportunity to increase my experience and knowledge on different aspects of ecology. Consequently, I have a range of experiences with many different taxa, in a variety of habitats, employing many different techniques. Some of these are:

  1. Marine Turtle Conservation Project

  2. Great Bustard National Action Plan

  3. Reintroduction of Anatolian Mouflon Project

  4. Determination and Monitoring of Monk Seal Populations around North Eastern Mediterranean

  5. Preparation of a Baseline Study on the Environmental Conditions of the Karpaz Peninsula in the Northern Part of Cyprus

  6. Determination of Ecologically Important Wetlands of T.R.N.C. Project

  7. Technical assistance for management and protection of potential Natura 2000 sites in the northern part of Cyprus

  8. Assessing the Current Status of the RAMSAR Areas in Turkey

I currently coordinate annual monitoring efforts for the Pentadactylos Mountains Bonelli’s Eagle population and recently Chaired the North Cyprus Society for Protection of Birds and Nature (KUŞKOR) and am now an active committee member.

In 2010 we were both contracted by North Cyprus Society for Protection of Birds (KUŞKOR). We designed and carried out field studies to map the Important Bird Areas (IBAs) of North Cyprus for Birdlife International as part of an EU funded project. Through this contract we came to know the birds of Cyprus very well.

We continue to campaign at KUŞKOR and we moderate a busy sightings forum for North Cyprus. Each moth we organise field outings for locals and fundraise to maintain KUŞKOR’s office and library in Kyrenia. Through KUŞKOR we guide school groups, offer talks and produce educational materials. We also campaign against illegal bird hunting, trapping and poisoning and maintain records of affected animals and direct rehabilitation efforts. Both of us are trainee ringers and we both hold British Trust for Ornithology trainee permits and regularly trap, mark and release birds in North Cyprus, whilst receiving regular training under visiting BTO trainers through KUŞKOR’s ringing scheme.

Robin and Damla birding with their first son Toprak.
Photo: Nathan Edmonds.

North Cyprus is a fantastic birding destination and has great tourism infrastructure so in 2012 we established Cyprus Wildlife Ecology to offer our guidance to visiting naturalists and birders and to subsidise our voluntary work and interests.

UK Bird Fair
Robin and Damla manning their North Cyprus stall at the UK Birdfair.
Photo: Nathan Edmonds.

We are also available for consultancy and contracting.
Research publications we collaborated on and led.

Horne, C.R., Fuller, W.J., Godley, B.J., Rhodes, K.A., Snape, R.T.E., Stokes, K.L., Broderick A.C. 2014. The effect of thermal variance on the phenotype of marine turtle offspring. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology. 87, 796-804.

Stokes, K.L., Fuller, W.J., Glen, F., Godley, B.J., Hodgson, D.J., Rhodes, K.A., Snape, R.T.E and Broderick, A.C. 2014. Detecting green shoots of recovery: the importance of long-term individual-based monitoring of marine turtles. Animal Conservation. 17, 593-602.

Stokes, K.L., Broderick, A.C., Canbolat, A.F., Candan, O., Fuller, W.J., Glen, F., Levy, Y, Rees, A.F., Rilov, G., Snape, R.T.E., Stott, I., Tchernov, D and Godley, B.J. 2014. Marine turtle migratory corridors and foraging hotspots. Diversity and Distributions. 21, 665-674.

Snape, R.T.E., Beton, D, Broderick, A.C., Çiçek, A.B, Fuller, W.J., Özden, Ö, Godley, B.J. 2013. Strand monitoring and anthropological surveys provide insight into marine turtle bycatch in small-scale fisheries of the Eastern Mediterranean. Chelonian Conservation and Biology, 12, 44-55.

Snape, R. T. E. 2015. Artisanal fishers help to map marine turtle distribution and bycatch: further evidence for an important foraging ground in Famagusta Bay, North Cyprus. Testudo, 8, 51-59.

Snape, R.T.E., Broderick, A. C., A. Çiçek, B. A., Fuller, W. J., Glen, F., Stokes, K., Godley, B.J. 2016. Shelf life: Neritic habitat use of a turtle population highly threatened by fisheries. Diversity and Distributions. In press.

Beton, D., Snape, R.T.E and Saydam, B. 2013. Status and ecology of the Bonelli’s Eagle, Aquila fasciatus, in the Pentadaktylos Mountain Range, Cyprus. Zoology in the Middle East, 59, 123-130.

Wright, L.I, Stokes, K.L., Fuller, W.J., Godley, B.J., McGowan, A., Snape, R.T.E., Tregenza, T and Broderick, A.C. 2012. Turtle mating patterns buffer against disruptive effects of climate change. Proceedings of the Royal Society.B, 279, 2122–2127.

Our presentations at national and international conferences.

Snape, R. T. E., 2011. Investigating Marine Turtle Bycatch in Artisanal Fisheries of Cyprus. Oral Presentation. 4th Mediterranean Conference on Marine Turtles, Napoli Italy, Nov 2011

Snape, R. T. E., 2012. Investigating Marine Turtle Bycatch in Artisanal Fisheries of Cyprus. Poster presentation. 6th World Fisheries Congress, Edinburgh Scotland, May 2012

Snape, R. T. E. 2013. Loggerhead turtles nesting in North Cyprus mostly forage in Cypriot, Syrian, Egyptian, Libyan and Tunisian waters – A descriptive assessment with implications for regional marine management. Oral Presentation. 1st International Fisheries Symposium North Cyprus, Girne, Cyprus,  March 2013.

Snape, R. T. E. et al. 2015. Habitat use of a loggerhead turtle population under high threat from fisheries. 35th International Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation, Mugla, Turkey, April 2015.

Vural, M., Zeydanlı. U., Beton, D and Meraklı, M. K. 2010. Determining Core Areas of Floral Species Richness in the Karpaz Peninsula, Cyprus. Oral Presentation. TOP Biodiversity 2010 - Threats, Opportunities and Paces for Biodiversity Conference, Larnaca, Cyprus, June 2010.

Beton. D. 2010. Determining Important Birds Area in Cyprus. 7th Turkish Bird Conference, Adana, Turkey, September 2010.

Beton. D and Bilgin, C.C. 2010. Modelling the Potential Effects of Climate Change on the distribution of endemic Crataegus tanacetifolia (Lam.) Pers. and Crocus ancyrensis (Herbert) Maw. Species. Poster Presentation. 20th National Biology Congress, Denizli, Turkey, June 2010.

Beton, D., Dönmez, A and Bilgin, C.C. 2009. Modelling the Potential Effects of Climate Change on the distribution of endemic Crataegus tanacetifolia (LAM.) species. Oral presentation. 4th National Ecology and Environment Congress, Nevsehir,Turkey, November 2009.

Beton. D and Bilgin C.C. 2009. Change in accuracy of distributional range modelling for restricted-range plants with different sample sizes. Oral Presentation. 2nd European Congress of Conservation Biology, Prague, Czech Republic, September 2009.

Beton, D and Kence, A. 2004. Genetic and Morphometric Differentiation Between the Bombus terrestris Populations in Ankara and North Cyprus. Oral Presentation. 17th National Biology Conference, Adana, Turkey, June 2004.

Beton, D and Kence, A. 2004. Genetic and Morphometric Differentiation Between the Bombus terrestris Populations in Ankara and North Cyprus. Poster Presentation. 1st EurBee Conference of Apidology, Udine, Italy. September 2004.





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