The animals of Zakynthos are not limited to the endangered Loggerhead Sea Turtle; there are a large variety of other animals that can be found on and around the island.
Monk seals are one of the most critically endangered marine mammals in the world today. The Mediterranean Monk Seal once frequented the sandy shores of Greece, and were considered a good omen to seafarers. It is ironic to think that they are now threatened with extinction due to the immense human pressure placed on their natural habitats by tourism, and the competitive modern fishing methods. What was once deemed a friend, inspired legend and verse is now looked on as a pest, and relies on secluded caves and isolated beaches to rear its young.
Their future survival depends on the protection of their natural habitats in what is their last strong hold in the Mediterranean.The Mediterranean population is around 500 seals. Greece hosts one of the last key populations with around 250 seals inhabiting its smaller islands. Most of the population live around the Sporades islands in eastern Greece, where The Hellenic Society for the protection of the Monk Seal have established a rescue centre for abandoned pups, and operate a careful monitoring and research programme.
Research also indicates that stretches of the south west and northeast coasts of Zakynthos contain habitats of considerable importance for the survival of the Monk Seal. Identification of individuals has indicated that at least 13 seals of various ages inhabit the area, around Zakynthos while the total population number may be as many as 16 animals.
A birth rate of 2 pups per year was recorded within the area during the operation of the WWF MonkSseal project in Zakynthos which ran from 1997-1999. Sadly funding ran out for this project and there is now no official Monk Seal Project running in the central Ionian.
Archipelagos a coastal and marine management organisation in Cephalonia assisted with the project in Zakynthos and have been operating a similar project on a voluntary basis since 1985. Their volunteers work in close co-operation with the fishermen whilst monitoring, and recording sightings of Monk Seal and Cetaceans in the Ionian Sea.
The Monk Seal sadly now exists in scattered and isolated populations in the Mediterranean, with out proper protection, and with only sporadic breeding they will almost certainly die out. The key to their future almost certainly depends on active protection of their breeding grounds, and the active co-operation between NGOs and local fishermen. (Photo Credit)
This is a common snake in the Ionian, can be grey, green, or black in colour, inhabits dry rocky scrubby places, its venom is not dangerous to man. Snakes are in general dying out in Greece due to persecution and loss of habitat in tourist areas. (Photo Credit)
2. Moorish gecko (Tarantola mauritanica)
This greyish brown member of the lizard family is often to be spotted on walls or buildings in the Ionian, particularly close to lights. Lives mainly close to the coast, and is a useful companion to have around your villa, as it loves mosquitoes. (Photo Credit)
3. Green Toad (Bufo viridis)
This toad is often found around buildings in surprisingly dry conditions. Distinctly marked colour pattern of yellows and greens on mottled back. Has shrill warbling song. Mainly eastern Europe. (Photo Credit)
4. Tree frog (Hyla arborea)
This brightly coloured frog is mainly nocturnal and as its name suggests prefers lush vegetation and bushes, close to water. Male has enormous vocal sac which swells when he calls. (Photo Credit)
The Sardinian warbler is a resident Ionian bird about 13 cm, with a black head, white throat and red eye ring. Harsh Chak chak chak alarm call. (Photo Credit)
2. Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator)
Loves vineyards, gardens and macquis landscapes, breeds in Southern Europe. Harsh calls Kshairr. Song varied with trills, whistles and mimicry. Rust head with distinctive white shoulder patches, blackish above and pure white below. (Photo Credit)
3. Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus)
The male bird is a stunning yellow with black wings and tail, where as the female is green and yellow. The female can often be confused with the green woodpecker when in flight. Its call is a harsh Kraa and its song is a clear fluting whistle peeloo-peeleoo. (Photo Credit)
4. Scops Owl (Otus scops)
It is most likely that you will hear rather than see this small bird. Most visitors to the rural Ionian will hear its distinctive dyoo dyoo calls at night around their apartments or villas. (Photo Credit)
5. Elenoras Falcon (Falco eleonora)
This bird is now very a rare falcon in Greece, but is often spotted around the smaller islands, especially in the Aegean. It is however still seen in the Ionian, often in pairs. (Photo Credit)
6. Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
These majestic birds are often to be seen circling in mountainous or wooded areas. Their wings when outstretched are quite amazing. A mewing cat like call from overhead. (Photo Credit)
These are the most noticeable of Ionian butterflies, with yellow wings and blue and red spotted colours at the base od their long decorative tails. Quite surprisingly you are more likely to see the scarce swallowtail than you are the common swallowtail. (Photo Credit)
2. Freyers Grayling (Neohipparchia fatua)
This group of butterflies belong to the Browns, and are often difficult to differentiate from each other. Freyers Grayling is an east mediterranean and near Eastern butterfly with very dark brown uppers in both sexes, pointed apex to male forewing, wavy hindwing margins in both sexes, dark eye spots on forewing, slightly lighter in female. Flight period July-August. Habitat- Grassy areas. (Photo Credit)
3. Spotted Fritillary (Melitaea didyma)
A beautifully patterned butterfly with two orange bands cross underside of hindwing and spotted all over. Highly variable as sub species. Frequents flowery meadows in southern and central Europe. (Photo Credit)