A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

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Chania, Crete

November 20, 2014

This magnolia tree sits in the "Kyros" or municipal garden in Chania. The garden was created in 1870 by Reoef Pasha when Chania was under Turkish rule. Nearby a cafe was once the Cretan Parliament between 1896 and 1913. This tree dates from the opening of the park and is about 140 years old.

 

 

 

 

 

Opposite the magnolia tree is a small enclosure housing "kri-kri" or the Cretan goat. This goat was once thought to be a wild goat but recent genetic research has discovered that it is a feral goat that was probably domesticated by the Minoan civilization around 1400 bc. Now only found on the highest peaks of the White Mountains of western Crete, it was once endemic in the Aegean. The second world war saw its numbers drastically reduced to about 200 as partisans living in the mountains hunted them for a source of food. There are now about 2000 mostly found at the head of the Samaria gorge clinging to the almost vertical rock faces.

 

 

Archaeological excavations have found several wall paintings of the kri-kri.  On the island, males are often called 'agrimi' (αγρίμι, 'the wild one'), while the name 'Sanada' is used for the female. The Kri-kri is a symbol of the island, much used in tourism marketing and official literature.

As molecular analyses demonstrate, the Kri-kri is not, as previously thought, a distinct subspecies of wild goat. Rather, it is a feral domestic goat, derived from the first stocks of goats domesticated in the Levant and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean around 8000-7500 BCE. Therefore, it represents a nearly ten thousand year-old "snapshot" of the first domestication of goats.

 

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