The wild donkeys that are dividing opinion

They have fended for themselves for decades, with a little help from humans passing through and the wild donkeys in northeast Cyprus are thriving!

Experts estimate there must be about 2,000 today, roaming the hills, sand dunes and country roads of the remote Karpas Peninsula.

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A previous field study in 2003, covering an area of 132 sq km, put the number at 800-900.

"They are a very big attraction for the tourists, for local and international tourists," said biologist and wilderness guide Tugberk Emirzade.

"They are very cute animals. They are very friendly and they are interesting. They have interesting history on the island, and they should be utilised in tourism."

Greek-Cypriot farmers once owned donkeys in the area but abandoned them when fleeing the Turkish invasion, triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup, that divided Cyprus in 1974.

The breakaway Turkish Cypriot state is recognised only by Ankara.

The Greek Cypriot government is internationally recognised as representing the whole island, and represents Cyprus in the European Union.

The donkeys' domain, on the easternmost point of Cyprus, is a focal point for pilgrims among the island's Greek and Turkish Cypriot population because of a monastery dedicated to the Apostle Andrew, one of Jesus's first followers.

The donkeys eagerly await visitors.

Cars mean people, and people mean food. Drivers frequently find packs on the meandering narrow roads, refusing to budge until the windows are wound down.

Ears back and snouts pulled into a grin, the donkeys stick in their muzzles in the hope of a reward.

Loved by tourists, loathed by some locals who say they damage crops and make roads dangerous, the feral Karpas donkeys are the ultimate survivors.

12 PHOTOS
Baby zoo animals around the world
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Baby zoo animals around the world

These babies, named Sri Kandi (left) and Arjuna (right) were born at Tierpark, Berlin, Germany. They made their debut on 5 March 2012.

Clinging to his mum, baby Changi meets his public  for the first time at Krefeld Zoo, Germany.

This little rhino, named Male, was born in January. He's pictured here with his mother, Mana, at Magdeburg Zoo, Germany.

The zoo at Tierpark in Berlin celebrated the birth of a litter of four dingo babies in January.

Only a few days old, this baby giraffe, named Kimarle, peaks out from her enclosure at the ZOOM Zoo in Gelsenkirchen, western Germany. The 170cm tall giraffe was born on March 9.

A one-month-old baby squirrel monkey clings to its mother's back at Qingdao Forest Wildlife Park, China.

A two-week old baby gorilla is cuddled by her mum, Mumba, a Western Lowland Gorilla, at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park near Ashford, Kent.

Born at Cincinnati Zoo,  US, this one-month old hedgehog is being hand reared by keepers until it is old enough to be included in the zoo's outreach programme.

Ludwig the baby elephant is clearly happy to be out and about at the Tierpark Hellabrunn Zoo, Munich.

These cuties were born in February at Bristol Zoo Gardens.

This cub was born prematurely at Toronto Zoo. His mum rejected him soon after he was born, so he was cared for by staff at the zoo. Here he is making his debut in February.

This six-month old baby Western Lowland Gorilla is seen here enjoying the spring sunshine with her mother at Dublin Zoo.

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