Wildfire destroys protected park full of animals in Greece

Smoke coming from huge forest, animal news
Wildfire burns in the Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli Forest National Park, Greece, July 26, 2022, photo: Reuters/Alexandros Avramidis

Conservationists and animal protection groups arrived on Tuesday in a protected national park in northern Greece to rescue animals from wildfires.

The Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli Forest National Park is an imported protected area in Europe full of plants and animals. The forest is home to more than 200 kinds of animals and around 400 plant species.

Since last Thursday, several forest fires have broken out in the park, and there are still active fires blazing in the park.

“The area that has been burned until today (Monday) is about 19,000 hectares. I am a bit cautious, I hope the fire will soon be out, and we will know and be able to record the (total) area and the damage to the ecosystem,” Eleni Makriyanni, head of park management, told news agency Reuters.

“I have no doubt that the fauna has suffered. If you can imagine, in the region that burned, there were active nests of birds of prey, of black storks, of which the nests obviously burned, which contained young ones that had not flown yet,” she said.

For days, Greek firefighters have been struggling to contain the fires as the summer heat has made it much harder to control the blaze. Citizens living nearby have been evacuated.

The Greek Ministry of Environment and Energy and animal welfare organizations set up emergency rescue stations to provide treatment for wild animals injured in the fire. Many veterinarians and volunteers are joining the animal rescue efforts.

“We have found reptiles, turtles, three or four lizards. The picture is still unclear, there are still several fire fronts, so it’s too early to make an estimate,” veterinarian Grigoris Markakis said.

The fire destroyed a large sheep enclosure near the edge of the forest. “It caught fire here, and everything flared up. Half the sheep took off towards the mountain. I got into the car and left. I did not have time to do anything,” animal farmer Kleanthis Raptis said.


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