Selmunett Wall Lizard

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Ke!tH
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Selmunett Wall Lizard

Post by Ke!tH » Sat Dec 31, 2005 9:50 am

Last Wednesday was a beautiful sunny and warm winter day, so my friend and I decided to go to Saint Pauls Island. Our intention was to record and observe the kieselbachi sub-species of the Maltese wall Lizard.
We arrived there at mid-morning, but to our disappointment we could not even spot one single specimen! even after walking for about two hours around the Island.
Although, we have observed some other fast running animals, but unfortunally, they were rats, and plenty of them.

This sub-species has been studied during the last years, and its decline was clearly noticed. The most probable culprit is rats which were introduced by man.

It would be a shame to loose an endemic reptile from our islands, so immediate care should be taken.[/i]

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Post by MWP admin » Sat Dec 31, 2005 12:35 pm

Keith, was it good time of the year to search for lizards? I seldom see any in Winter (not even the common ones) but there will be numerous lizards sun-bathing on rock or waysides in March/April when the mornings are cold and the noons are warm.

Thanks for thr post (first for the lizards!)

Is your friend a member of the forum?
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Ke!tH
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Post by Ke!tH » Sat Dec 31, 2005 12:56 pm

Well, on a hot winter day lizards do go out to absorb the suns radiation.
They do not usually hibernate in our islands, as the temp. is not so cold, although you are right when saying that their activity decreases during the cold months.
When compared to results of the no. of lizards spotted in winter for previous years, there was a 100% decrease. (even if only 1 was spotted in a previous year)

I think that the authorities should make an effort to save flora and fauna in our islands, as this is not the only case. They surely know what is in danger of extintion and what isn't.

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Post by IL-PINE » Sun Jan 01, 2006 11:40 pm

I agree with you. For such a small islet, the rats must find food - in summer they might find some food and waste left by humans, but in winter they need to find other things to eat - and they end up feeding on lizards.

It would be another great loss for Malta.

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Post by MWP admin » Mon Jan 02, 2006 8:20 am

Pine, do you think rats are carnivorous? I am skeptical about it, and additionally the lizards are quite alert, swift creatures that are difficult to prey for. But if you are sure, then it would be really bad for our poor lizards :-(
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Post by michaelb » Mon Jan 02, 2006 12:13 pm

I agree with you MWP. Lizards are rarley seen (if seen) during this time of year. Once I found a lizard under many leaves (probaly was hibernating) during this time of year and its movement was like with slow motion As I had time to put it in a another place as I had to clear that heap of leaves. As with the lizards also other raptiles like the Xahmet l-art have the same habit during winter.
Michael Buhagiar

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Post by Ke!tH » Mon Jan 02, 2006 2:22 pm

Both of you are right, but as we got to Mistra I saw one sunbathing on a rock! :shock:

We are supposed to visit the Island in March, and I will then post the records.
Hope it turns out better :?

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Post by MWP admin » Mon Jan 02, 2006 5:13 pm

Keith, Regards Saint Paul's Island:

1) How did you get there, through a friends' boat?

2) Have you seen Oxalis pes-caprae there?

3) Any particular plant which is quite rare in Malta but very common on that island ?! (Probably difficult to say!)
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Post by Ke!tH » Mon Jan 02, 2006 7:18 pm

We got there with a very small dinghy :P ......
It was fine in the morning as the current favoured us, but the sea got rougher in the afternoon so we found it very difficult to paddle back. Fortunately enough, a small motor boat passed by and towed us to mistra half way through :roll:

The vegetation on that island is constantly on the increase, as rabbits got wiped out of there about 30 years ago. (correct me if I'm wrong here!)
There are enormous ammounts of Narcis growing next to each other, especially in the abbandoned fields, and also there were large numbers of Ghansar.
The other side of the island is quite rocky and only pockets of soil are available for plants to grow in. The vegetation there was typically coastal, as the land lies close to sea level and is subject to sea spray.

Regards rare species, I dont know :? as I'm not that much into plants, but I assume that there might be something interesting for you there! I recomand that you should go and check it out.

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Post by Ke!tH » Mon Jan 02, 2006 7:20 pm

Everywhere on our Islands is covered with Oxalis pes-caprae.
St. Pauls is surely not an exception!

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Post by IL-PINE » Mon Jan 02, 2006 8:46 pm

There is a plant mentioned for St. Paul's Islands - I believe it is Parietaria cretica and it is only recorded for our islands from there. Wolf mentioned the Maltese Toadflax also from there. We should visit the islet.

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Post by Adriano » Mon Jan 02, 2006 9:37 pm

Ke!tH wrote:Everywhere on our Islands is covered with Oxalis pes-caprae.
St. Pauls is surely not an exception!
How rare is the formation of the fruit (and seeds) of Oxalis Pes-caprae? Is it common enough so that the incidence of crossing the gap between the two islands can occur (of course, assuming that there was no human interference) :? ? What about Filfla, where the distances to be covered are larger and human interference is less? If I remeber correctly it is present on Comino right?

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Post by michaelb » Mon Jan 02, 2006 9:55 pm

As I read in books regarding old folklore, St. Pauls islands where tilled and cattle was taken there to graze. Thus there was human interference on the enviornment of the island,
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Dedicated thread about Bermuda Buttercup invasiveness

Post by MWP admin » Tue Jan 03, 2006 8:20 am

Adriano wrote:
Ke!tH wrote:Everywhere on our Islands is covered with Oxalis pes-caprae.
St. Pauls is surely not an exception!
How rare is the formation of the fruit (and seeds) of Oxalis Pes-caprae? Is it common enough so that the incidence of crossing the gap between the two islands can occur (of course, assuming that there was no human interference) :? ? What about Filfla, where the distances to be covered are larger and human interference is less? If I remeber correctly it is present on Comino right?

Hi Adriano! I have exactly your questions about oxalis for few years now and I have not arrived to a conclusion, but I have some hypothesis. You can read all this in a dedicated thread on the forum:

Invasiveness of the Bermuda Buttercup

I would prefer that our discussion regards Oxalis will be continued on that thread to keep things to the subject.
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Post by wolf » Sun Feb 05, 2006 3:17 pm

Keith - the selmunett wall lizard is in fact decreasing rapidly - apparently due to the large amount of rats on the island - there is a reference to this in the state of the environment report ( on mepa website ) which i sippose you have already had a look at

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Handy

Post by MWP admin » Sun Feb 05, 2006 4:46 pm

Wolf, if you have the doc handy on your PC, it would be very appreciated if you post it on the forum (for practicalibilty and the busy admin)

You can post it as if you are sending a photo attachment.

tnx
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Post by wolf » Sun Feb 05, 2006 4:49 pm

I am not sure it can be saved as PDF though someone I know said he did just that ...there is quite a lot to read though... also I suppose you would have to ask permission from MEPA per kirjanza though it is a public document

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Post by wolf » Mon May 29, 2006 6:59 pm

Dear Keith

You may have seen the article in times last week re selmunett lizard....apparently the species could be extinct by now and the clever dicks at MEPA are finally reacting ( a knee-jerk reaction if there ever was one ! ) and calling in ghostbusters - er sorry Comtec !
About bloody time too ...

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Post by MWP admin » Mon May 29, 2006 10:29 pm

That's why my prev argument that its good we 'nature-lovers' propagate rare / endangered plants (from seeds) because it seems Mepa do not care much about the environment and its conservation. In my opinion they go to work mostly to make there private tasks namely some academic courses (M.Sc for example) or write articles and get their fixed salary in the meantime.

The selmunett lizard was known to be endangered for few decades and what have Mepa did recentely to try and safeguard this endemic lizard??? Any reports??
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Post by Sdravko » Tue May 30, 2006 8:17 am

went to Selmunett with Nature Trust some time ago. There was a herpetologist (Arnold) with us who told us the lizard is extinct in the wild (eaten by the rats :evil: ) but he has a little captive pop at home.
lets hope he can save the ssp.

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Post by jackpot » Tue May 30, 2006 11:50 am

he he Sdravko: you are not there for vacation!
:lol:

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Post by IL-PINE » Tue May 30, 2006 11:20 pm

What a bunch of idiots, we seem to have lost a subspecies then!

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Post by wolf » Wed May 31, 2006 5:48 am

Pine - I second you and hope someone from this " authority " ( sic )
is reading this

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Post by sandra » Wed May 31, 2006 4:46 pm

Well its the same old story, like the Carpobrotus on our sand dunes!

Let us hope the guys from comtec do a good job and dont end up killing other species in the process!!!

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Post by robcar » Tue Jun 06, 2006 3:20 pm

Yes, now that the lizards are in all probability extinct in the wild, a plan to control the rats and rehabilitate Selmunett is about to start - how timely and efficient :!:

Given that the authorities have been kept informed about the rapid, progressive decline of the subspecific lizard population at Selmunett it is indeed disgraceful that things had to go so far before anything concrete is done. While it is true that conservation action should be based on research and monitoring, endangered populations will not wait at our convenience.

Now thanks to the inertia of those who should know better the fate of the selmunett lizard is hinged on whether a very small ex situ population, which contains a limited amount of genetic diversity (given the small number of individuals) will breed successfully in captivity.

In conservation, the more populations are allowed to decline, the more expensive it becomes to save them, and the less likely are the chances of success. However it seems that the powers that be are unaware of this simple fact :(

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Post by wolf » Tue Jun 06, 2006 3:37 pm

well said Robcar - I am convinced the same fate eventually awaits il-qabru when it could easily ( with proper supervision ) be reintroduced to the upper parts of wied fiddien where I believe it once belonged

but I suppose the authority entrusted with conserving our biodiversity is still drawing reports on this ...

cheers

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What a shame . . .

Post by MWP admin » Wed Jun 07, 2006 8:48 am

I agree too, and feel a cocktail of disappointment-and-anger for our environment authorities and maybe also towards the gov. which they do not take these situations seriosly.

Numerous studies, thesis, research, etc but still we are on the point of loosing an (sub-)endemic lizard.

Again the problem is that our general culture is not env-conservative. How much % of the Maltese would you think know about this fact or that they are sorry or care about it? - maybe 0.0000....1% :cry:

Whereas when a wooden cross was broken at Valletta church, the news seemed to be so alarming that ended up TVM news with a further discusssion in Xarabank!

Fl-isem tal Missier u ta l-iben...
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Post by IL-PINE » Wed Jun 07, 2006 8:59 am

I agree with MWP, (not that the news of the wooden cross was not important) but we need to focus a bit more on our wildlife!

Enjoy Finland Kalang!

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Post by Sdravko » Thu Jun 08, 2006 9:49 am

Hi Jack,

the trip to selmunett was on a weekend. :lol: :lol: :lol:

this weekend Arnold will chek the lizard pop on Fungus Rock where there are rats, too. Lets hope they left some lizards for him.

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