Ibiza snake panic as tourism surge sparks huge rise in reptile numbers

UK residents arrive in Ibiza as travel restrictions are lifted

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Historically, Ibiza has naturally had no snakes call the island home. But as British tourists increase demand for imports of food and exotic plants, there has been an influx of snakes.

There are now four species of snake on Ibiza, with the horseshoe whip snake posing the biggest threat to Ibiza’s lizard population.

Research into the island has found snakes have invaded half of Ibiza’s land area.

Censuses show areas with high numbers of lizards are yet to be invaded by snakes, but areas with high numbers of the predators are growing according to research.

A local council is giving out free traps and paying locals to destroy the snakes on the island, as they threaten to wipe out the lizards.

A group of British expats, funded by a board member of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), are also encouraging “eco holidays” to help restore the island’s natural habitats.

According to the Telegraph, Ibiza Preservation hope to reduce the need for imports and ask visitors to enjoy Ibiza’s local cuisine.

The group was established by expat Serena Cook, who runs a high-end concierge service on the island. and Ben Goldsmith, a financier and nature campaigner who sits on the board of the DEFRA.

Kate Benyon-Tinker, another British expat and Ibiza Preservation’s communications manager, told the Telegraph: “We are trying to get people to appreciate the lizards, pictures of them are sold on fridge magnets, beach towels and stuff.

“They evolved to eat vegetation because of the lack of other foodstuffs on the islands.

“This means they pollinate all the plants, they are hugely important to the ecosystem.

“We are supporting a campaign to save the lizard and what they’re doing is trying to spread the word about trapping the snakes, and what you do and encouraging people to get their own traps.”

Ibiza Preservation funded local groups who are preserving the island’s natural resources and are campaigning for Britons to partake in more sustainable tourism.

Ms Benyon-Tinker also told The Telegraph the group aims to rejuvenate the island’s farms, and to help make Ibiza “a more foodie destination”.

She added to the outlet: “The type of tourism here means they have this problem where a huge amount of tourists descend on a beach in a really short space of time.

“And what’s much better for the island is if you can have a more constant year-round tourism, so that you have a winter tourism where people come and they’re more interested in doing walks, and you know, eating in nice restaurants and doing these kind of farm to table experiences.”

It comes after researchers Elba Montes, Fred Kraus, Brahim Chergui and Juan M Pleguezuelos published a study into the ‘collapse of the endemic lizard (the Ibiza wall lizard) on the island of Ibiza mediated by an invasive snake’ earlier this year.

Over the last 18 years, the researchers said the Ibiza wall lizard has become prey to the horseshoe whip snake after the predator reptiles were brought to the island inside olive trees.

The researchers determined the invasive reptile occupies 49.31 percent of the island, and 43.04 percent of the lizards’ entire range area.

Based on the data, the researchers believe the snakes will cover the entire island of Ibiza by 2027-2028.

The fast blanketing of Ibiza island is driving a very fast decline of Ibiza wall lizards to the point of extirpation within the invaded range.

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