- Title: Greek fires disorient migrating storks, send them crashing into city power lines
- Date: 9th August 2021
- Summary: ATHENS, GREECE (AUGUST 8, 2021) (REUTERS) ANIMA' PRESIDENT MARIA GANOTI TAKING STORK FROM CAGE AT ANIMA'S FIRST AID CENTRE, ASKING AID TO GET HER SOME MEDICINE, WALKING THROUGH FIRST AID CENTRE WITH STORK VARIOUS OF GANOTI PUTTING SOME MEDICINE IN STORK'S EYE (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) 'ANIMA' PRESIDENT MARIA GANOTI SAYING: "Every year at this time the storks cross Attica and reach the shores towards Sounion, where they wait for a favourable northern wind in order to leave for Africa, and after they cross the Aegean and head straight for Africa. 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 the apartment buildings."
- Embargoed: 23rd August 2021 12:15
- Keywords: Greece fire smoke storks
- Location: ATHENS,GREECE
- City: ATHENS,GREECE
- Country: Greece
- Topics: Disaster/Accidents,Europe,Wildfires/Forest Fires
- Reuters ID: LVA001EPK7ADJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Wildfires raging in Greece for the past week have caused migrating storks heading to Africa to lose their way, sending them crashing into city power lines after becoming disoriented, an animal welfare group has said.
The wild birds have been found dead on lawns of properties in northern Athens' residential suburbs, after crashing into electricity poles and dying of electrocution after becoming confused from the smoke and flames that swept through Attica.
"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 the apartment buildings," said Maria Ganoti, president of the Hellenic Wildlife Care Association ANIMA, referring to two residential suburbs in northern Athens.
"Because the animals are upset, they fall onto electricity poles and are electrocuted on the cables. We have many storks, 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," said Ganoti.
Every year, storks coming from central Europe and northern Greece cross the Attica region, and gather near Cape Sounion about 70 kilometres southeast of the capital while they wait for favourable northern winds to help carry them across the Mediterranean into Africa for the winter.
"Unfortunately, they were passing at the time of the fire," said Ganoti, who estimates some 20 storks have died so far, while another four are being treated at ANIMA's first aid centre. Once they heal they will be taken to the eastern coast of Greece where they will be released to continue their journey to Africa with other herds flying south.
"Because they have to go to Africa, we take them to a place where the herds pass and they will follow them. Or they may wait out the year and will leave next year," said Ganoti.
The birds represent only a small part of the suffering experienced by animals, both wild or domesticated, in the fires which have devastated thousands of acres of forest.
The first aid centre is also treating other wild animals such as turtles, who have been burned or have suffered smoke inhalation.
"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," she said.
The fires on the outskirts of Athens burned through eight thousand hectares of forest over five days, killing wildlife, destroying cars and homes, and causing people to evacuate. By Monday the fires had been contained in Attica, leaving behind charred remains, but other large fronts, such as on the island of Evia, continued.
(Production: Vassilis Triandafyllou, Deborah Kyvrikosaios)
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