Devastating Wildfires In Greece Continue To Claim The Lives Of Countless Animals & Destroy Critical Habitat

Wildfires that have blazed through Greece for several days – the direct result of climate change and extreme temperatures – have displaced thousands of people and countless animals.

IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) is rushing aid to ANIMA, a non-profit organization that operates the main First Aid Station for wildlife in Greece. The center treats thousands of wounded and orphaned wild animals, before releasing them back into the wild. IFAW’s support will provide veterinary care for burnt animals, as well as medicine and food.

“The situation in Greece is terrible. At one point, there were about 50 fires raging earlier this week,” said Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, program director for Disaster Response & Risk Reduction in Europe at IFAW. “We are in touch with local organizations, and I read about one shelter in Lagonisi, southern Greece, that was destroyed by the fires, many animals died. Two volunteers risked their lives, jumping into the flames and were able to rescue seven dogs and a cat, all of them suffering from burn injuries.”

It was reported yesterday that a firefighting tanker plane crashed while fighting forest fires on the southern Greek island of Evia. Sadly, both pilots were killed.

Wildfires cause mass mortalities in wild animal populations and destroy their habitats and food sources. Wildlife that is injured or searching for food or shelter after extreme events may also enter human-populated areas, which can pose a risk to both humans and animals.

“Unfortunately, we already know about dozens of animals burned in shelters and we try, in cooperation with volunteers and rescue groups, to release as many animals as possible,” the Special Secretariat for the Protection of Companion Animals in Greece said in a statement on Facebook.

“Every life has value,” they added, while urging people who are fleeing the fires to please take their animals with them, and “under no circumstances” leave them trapped and chained.

Greece has activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to receive support from other countries. The Ministry of Interior, via their Special Secretariat for the Protection of Companion Animals, sent out messages via social media urging citizens to evacuate with their animals or call for help to rescue and transport animals with trucks. IFAW commends the Secretariat for their animal rescue support efforts, which set an example for other European countries.

As climate change causes wildfires, floods, and droughts to hit more frequently and furiously than ever before, IFAW advocates for the improvement of disaster management policies and planning in Europe.

“What we’re seeing across Europe is frightening with relentless heat waves scorching the landscape,” said Sissler-Bienvenu. “These defenseless animals are victims of the increasingly severe impacts of climate change. Incorporating animals into disaster management plans must be essential as we move forward in a world which is rapidly changing.”

To apply for an emergency grant to help animals threatened by this disaster, local associations can send their request to the following e-mail address: europedisasters@ifaw.org

Please consider donating to IFAW so that they can continue their rescue efforts during this difficult time in Greece, HERE!

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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