Flora and Fauna on the Greek island of Tilos
Far out in the eastern reaches of Greece lies the tiny island of Tilos. Tilos is a pristine Mediterranean slice of paradise with a stunning diversity of flora and fauna. The island is named for Tilos, the mythological son of Helios and Halia. Tilos found the island that would bear his name while searching for herbs to aid his sick mother. Today, the island is famous for its amazing collection of flora. The island is also a haven of more than 100 different bird species and is registered as an EU Special Protection Area.
Although the island of Tilos has nearby neighbours, it has its own unique ecology. Some of the flora and fauna are endemic to the isolated island. Tilos has many different ecosystems despite its small size, including plains, coastal and mountain regions. No official count exists of how many unique species of plants grow on Tilos, but some estimate it may be as high as 1,000. Many orchid species grow on the island, including several rare species. These beautiful flowers vary in colour and shape. The orchids are a very popular attraction for visitors. Springtime is especially glorious on the island with the sweet aromas of flowers and herbs filling the air.
Tilos has a healthy variation of bird species but only a few mammals. Scientists have found the bones of dwarf elephants, which are thought to have lived on the island thousands of years ago. Today, the most common mammals are the ocean-dwelling monk seal and the common dolphin. The monk seal is only rarely seen as it is an endangered species with a low population. Common dolphins are sometimes spotted from the beaches on Tilos. Most tourists, however, come to see Tilos’ avian population. A large population of Eleonora’s Falcon use Tilos as a breeding ground. These spotted birds of prey are a fascinating sight for even amateur birdwatchers. Many other birds use the island as a resting place on their migratory journey from Africa to Europe. Other large birds include the long-legged buzzard and Bonelli’s Eagle. Tilos’ impressive bird population has earned the island a spot on Europe’s Important Bird Area list.
The island of Tilos caters to ecotourism. The island’s population is on the decline, with ecotourism one of its few remaining commodities. The people of the island recognise the value of tourism and have taken steps to protect Tilos, including a hunting ban to preserve the island’s population of birds. Many beautiful hikes wrap around the island to give tourists the ultimate view of the incredible flora and fauna. Visitors can walk along fields full of bright blooms or mountain trails shaded by trees. These nature walks also pass by ancient ruins including castles and fortresses. The island of Tilos has much to offer to nature lovers.