Migrating storks heading for Africa lost, injured and killed in Greek wildfires

Migrating storks on their way to Africa have been getting lost, injured or killed by the wildfires raging in Greece for the past week, Hellenic Wildlife Care Association ANIMA said.

The wild birds have been found dead on lawns of properties in northern Athens’ residential suburbs. They crashed into electricity poles after becoming confused by the smoke and flames that swept through Attica.

“Every year at this time, the storks cross Attica and reach the shores towards Sounion, where they wait for a favourable northern wind to leave for Africa,” Maria Ganoti, president of ANIMA, told Reuters.

“Unfortunately, they were passing at the time of the fire. For three days now, herds of storks are in completely unrelated places, places where they would never have been, like in Vrilissia, in Halandri, on apartment buildings,” she said.

“It is the first time we have had so many dead storks in Athens. People in Athens are picking up dead storks from their lawns,” Ganoti said.

So far, around twenty storks have died, and four were being treated at ANIMA’s first aid centre.

Turtles inhaled smoke
The birds represent only a small part of the suffering of animals in the wildfires, which have destroyed eight thousand hectares of forest in a week.

ANIMA is also treating other wild animals such as turtles who have been burned or inhaled smoke.

“Some of the animals that are here will die. The turtles, for example, if they have inhaled a lot of smoke and have been burned internally, they will not be able to eat, and they will die, you cannot do something about that,” Ganoti said.

By Monday, the fires had been contained in Attica, but fires in other areas, such as on the island of Evia, continued.

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