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Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 13257726

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 13257726) - Blunt-nosed viper - Awarded $5,000 on January 17, 2014 The blunt-nosed viper (Macrovipera lebetina) is composed of seven subspecies which inhabit semi-arid environments in North Africa and in the Near and Middle East (Irano-Turanian region). The nominate subspecies Macrovipera lebetina lebetina is restricted to Cyprus (and possibly some localities in Southeastern Turkey). Cyprus is home to 11 snake species, of which Macrovipera lebetina is the only venomous one.   

This viper does not appear in the IUCN Red List. Few information on the ecology of this species are available, and most English-language publications focus on venom and phylogenetic analyses. Important habitats of the blunt-nosed viper include rocky slopes and outcrops with shrubs as well as gullies, gorges, river valleys, vineyard and orchards. Streambeds are of importance particularly on hot summer days, when these large vipers use the water to cool down their body temperature. So far, very little information has been published on the habitats of Macrovipera lebetina on Cyprus. Different publications indicate that Macrovipera lebetina is commonly neglected and not included in conservation measures in Cyprus. This medically important, highly venomous species is persecuted by man across its range, and levels of snake killing appear to be very high in Cyprus. Increased anthropogenic pressure from habitat conversion and road traffic poses another direct threat to Macrovipera lebetina.                                                                                                                   

Field data collection is scheduled for spring 2014. Objectives of the study are

1) identifying and describing biotopes of the Cypriot blunt-nosed viper,

2) identifying threats to Macrovipera l. lebetina on Cyprus and comparing them with the threats to the endangered Macrovipera schweizeri on the island of Milos, and to other large vipers of semi-arid area,

3) collecting biometric data and DNA samples of the blunt-nosed viper on Cyprus and comparing it with those of the Milos viper and mainland specimens (DNA), and with and other large vipers of semi-arid environments,

4) providing and discussing recommendations for the conservation of Cypriot populations of Macrovipera l. lebetina and its habitats.

Project 13257726 location - Cyprus, Europe