Crete is an island that is well known for its food , its traditional cretan products as well as Cretan Flora and Cretan Fauna indigenous to our island. A big part of Cretan Fauna that is found solely on Crete and is the so-called Kri- Kri.
Kri- Kri (Capra Aegagrus Creticus) is a species of mammal which nowadays can be found only on Crete and its part of our flora and fauna culture. Botanical Park and Gardens of Crete in Chania hosts many wildlife and in this topic we will specialize on Kri- Kri and its significance .
Kri- Kri and Cretan Fauna: A long History.
Apparently Kri- Kri has a centuries long history on the island, but was not present here originally. In fact, most possibly the Minoans probably transported this wild goat into our island. Centuries came by, and now this anima lis solely found on Crete, which makes it indigenous to our island.
How it looks like.
Kri Kri is typically smaller, lighter and more agile than a typical goat. Its colour is always light brown (-ish) and has distinctive eyes with long pupils. There are also horns that are ascending up from their heads. Typically they are not friendly with people, as Kri Kri’s are not farm animals, and are not used to the heavy presence of people. Although, many normal goats tend to look alike as Kri- Kri’s due to the excessive breeding (intentional or not) which is also one of the many reasons that original Cretan wild Goats (Kri- Kri) are in the danger of extinction.
Where you can find it.
As we already described, Kri- Kri goats are present in small numbers on Crete and especially in the Chania area. They reside in the mountains, and in high altitudes, especially at altitudes of 1200+ meters and above and are fed up with greenery, fruit blossoms and occasionally with endemic flowers, greens and other flora of Cretan Countryside.
A common place you will get to see the Cretan Wild Goat is the municipal garden , in the centre of Chania. They are kept in captivity and carefully preserved for viewing purposes, as well as for security and preservation reasons.
Another place where Kri- Kri is found is on the island Thodorou which is 8 klm west of Chania area and is an uninhabited island where no people are allowed to visit it. This is due to the fact that a reasonable number of those goats reside in the island and is guarded in order to protect them from extinction.
There is an outpost for security reasons there, and while you cant visit this island, it is possible to come close to it with a boat, as tourist boat trips are usual in this area. The island of Thodorou is also clearly visible from the main road near Stalos and Agia Marina area and you can take your time in order to justify its scale and its dimensions, as it is one of the last bastions of untouched wilderness near the city of Chania.
The last- and most common- place and habitat for Kri Kri goats is the Samaria Gorge, in the White Mountains of Crete. Samaria gorge is a famous hiking destination amongst tourists, hikers and nature lovers. Inside the Samaria Gorge National Park resides a big number of Kri Kri animals, again, closely guarded and protected. As it is very common for visitors to pass the samaria gorge as a part of a full day journey , you can take a close look at the mountains, passages and cliffs that surround you. There is a good chance that you will be able to spot and admire some of those indigenous Cretan animals in their natural environment.
As we have found out they are mostly gathered around the old settlement of Samaria, which is midway through the Samaria Gorge. There is also a medical station, a helipad and some guard rooms in order to accommodate the gorge’s guards. This is also a very common place for relaxation amongst hikers, and we heavily insist that you sit and admire Cretan nature there while looking around and try to spot our endangered Cretan Wildlife species of Kri-Kri.
Kri- Kri: An animal close to extinction.
Although heavily protected by the Greek laws, there are many times throughout the recent decades that Kri- Kri came close to extinction. This is the reason that Samaria Gorge was nominated and became a National Park in 1962. The laws strictly prohibit hunting and killing any of those wild goats. Their numbers are probably close to a few thousands in the best case scenarios, although there were times that their number was only a few hundreds.
Kri- Kri: An unknown trivia.
As you may already understand, Kri- Kri plays a vital role and has significance in the eyes of the people of Crete. It is , in some ways, a badge of honour and a wild animal that should be preserved no matter what. You may see the name Kri Kri in many hotels, restaurants, travel agencies all over Crete, and especially in Chania area where Kri- Kri can be found in big numbers.
The significance of this animal for our prefecture of Chania is also visible from the fact that a big statue of this animal can be found also in the entrance of the new city bounds of Chania in order to welcome every visitor into our town. Next time you are approaching Chania bounds, take a close look at the Nearchou and Apokoronou Junction in order to spot it . It is also a very nice opportunity for photos, as it is a popular attraction amongst locals and tourists.