Conservationists Race to Save Tortoises in Country’s Scorching Biodiversity Hotspot
A raging blaze in the countryside behind Saint-Tropez is France’s biggest wildfire of the summer. Flames have ripped through the arid Plaine de Maine nature reserve towards the glitzy Riviera resort of Saint-Tropez. The flames have already burned 7,100 hectares of forest. Meanwhile, rescuers race to save Hermann’s tortoises amid raging wildfire in France.
French scientist Dominique Guicheteau, along with 20 specialist volunteers, has been on the lookout for the creatures with black and yellow-patterned carapaces stranded in the burnt biodiversity hotspot, which is home to 241 protected species.
Hermann’s tortoise is already classified as a “vulnerable” species on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. The fires have jeopardized the animal even further. The group has found 31 alive and one dead tortoise, so far.
The 2021 fire is moving much faster than precious catastrophic blazes in the region. For four days firefighters have tried to control the blaze that killed two and forced thousands to flee.
Firefighters fighting France’s worst wildfire of the summer said that the blaze had stopped expanding after five days but changing winds over the weekend could make it harder to combat the flames.
Margaret Kinnaird, global wildlife practice leader at WWF International, said;
Fires falling outside natural patterns are jeopardizing the survival of wildlife, which are killed or injured through direct contact with smoke and flames or suffer widespread habitat destruction.
After the creatures are rescued, the tortoises are plunged into a bowl of water, weighed and measured. Thereafter, the volunteers put them back in their now-burnt natural habitat where they will have to wait for fall and rain to replenish the surroundings, before hibernating.
The recent heatwave and surge of wildfires across southern Europe have ravaged thousands of acres of forests and endangered many wild species.
In what is being characterized as France’s worst blaze of the summer, half of the arid Plaine des Maures natural reserve has been burned down. The region is filled with cork oaks and poplars and home to bats, tree frogs and other reptiles.
Via: France 24