The region covered by the Municipality of Monemvasia is one of low impact agriculture and tourism, free of industries. Therefore it is one of the few regions of Greece with such a unique and rich flora and fauna. Discover it in the most interesting and enjoyable way possible, along its beautiful hiking routes.
Flora of the Monemvasia Municipality
Several studies and surveys have been and continue to be made of the flora of the southern Parnon range. Over 600 species of wild plants have been recorded, 300 of which have been recognised macroscopically and are not part of the fungi and mushroom category.
Depending on the rate of registering new species (for the purposes of amateur research), it is currently estimated that there are more than 800 different species in the Maleas peninsula.
Considering that the total for the Peloponnese is about 2,500 species (Grigoris Iatrou, University of Patras) and some 6,000 for the whole of Greece, this means that the Monemvasia municipality is home to a large percentage of the country’s species of flora.
In other words, the municipality, particularly the peninsula of Maleas stretching from Zarakas to the southernmost reaches of Parnon, is a botanical treasure trove. It has attracted the attention of botanists since the 17th century, when Chaubard and Sibthort explored the region.
Their reports, along with later studies, culminated in the work of Constantinos Goulimis, who paid seven visits to the region from 1954 to 1959, recording 150 wild plants including three new species and one variety.
The most important of these new discoveries, later named after him (Tulipa goulimyi) is endemic to the region and to the island of Kythera.
In recent years it has also been observed in Mani (Itylo, Mianes) and in western Crete, indicating the palaio-geographic continuity of the region, the unity of the biotope and the age of this species.
Another endemic plant he discovered was the (Linaria hellenica) and a species of thyme with white flowers (Thymus leucanthum).
Recently another species endemic to this region has been discovered - Linum hellenicum, found only in the municipality from Zarakas to Cape Maleas.
A survey of the flora of the Parnon range has been carried out in recent years by Professor Eleftherios Kalpouzakis of Athens University, adding important additional information regarding Vatika and the wider municipality of Monemvasia.
Exploration of the region’s caves by Poseidon, the local speleologists association, has aided in recording new botanical zones. The fact that all biotopes apart from the alpine zone are to be found in the region accounts for its rich botanical variety.
Fauna of the Monemvasia Municipality
The following species have been observed:
9 species of snake, prominent among them the Balkan whip snake (Columb ergemonensis) and the horned viper (Vipera ammodytes).
10 species of lizards, the most interesting being the Greek rock lizard (Lacerta graeca).
4 species of amphibians (frogs).
5 species of tortoises and turtles, chiefly the loggerhead sea turtle (Carettacaretta) and the marginated tortoise (Testudomarginata). The Caretta caretta nests on most of the sandy shores of the municipality’s western coastline.
The region’s bird species number more than 130 (nearly 35 percent of the bird species found in Greece). About 50 species next in the region, the remainder are migratory. The wetlands of the Strongyli and Gerakas lagoons are important stopover areas for migrating water birds.
The most important and rarest of the bird species are Bonelli’s eagle(Hieraaetusfasciatus)and theEurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo). The former is found only in the eastern Peloponnese and the Cyclades. Only 60 pairs have been found altogether, six of them in the Monemvasia municipality.
At least three pairs of the Eurasian eagle-owl have been recorded. However, in 2010, two individuals treated for injuries did not survive.
More than 10 species of mammals are found in the southern Parnon range, not including small mammals and bats.
Chief among the marine mammals are the bottlenose dolphin (Tursopiustruncatus) and the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachusmonachus). Whales have been observed in the open sea.
The most important of the land mammals is the jackal (Canisaureus) – despite this species’ dwindling numbers, Laconia is considered the kingdom of the jackal. Recently some were spotted near the settlement of Mesochori in Vatika, and at Cape Maleas.
For more detailed information regarding the Monemvasia municipality’s flora and fauna: