VIDEO. After the Vidauban fire in the Var, we must save Hermann’s turtles

VIDEO. After the Vidauban fire in the Var, we must save Hermann’s turtles
VIDEO. After the Vidauban fire in the Var, we must save Hermann’s turtles

We must act quickly to save Hermann’s tortoises which may be injured. The flames of the Vidauban fire can decimate the population of this protected species.

In the Var, the fire which burned through 600 hectares of forests is now fixed. A fire believed to be of accidental origin. The landscape of desolation stretches for miles. No more vegetation and wildlife suffered.

So a team of 30 volunteers mobilized to scour scorched lands in search of survivors. Indeed, Hermann tortoises are numerous in these massifs, the species is protected and endemic to the department.

Also read: IN PICTURES. In the Var, large aerial resources for a fire pushed by a violent wind, 600 hectares affected

The SOPTOM association (Station for the Observation and Protection of Turtles and their Environments) went to the scene to comb the area. In a few hours, around ten turtles have already been found and more than half have died. They can hide among tree trunks.

When we find a turtle, we check that the shell is intact, without impact.

Alexia Le Floch, project manager for SOPTOM

at France 3 Côte d’Azur

Some turtles may simply be dehydrated or require more care. Already in 2021, during the big fires which ravaged more than 7,000 hectares from Gonfaron, hundreds of turtles had been rescued. Around thirty of them were treated and then reintroduced.

The veterinarian, Doctor Franck Bonin, works in the Tortues village where the SOPTOM association is housed. In 2021, he explained: “the center where I work is a refuge, we welcome abandoned turtles or those seized by the administration. We have 50 species, or between 1,600 and 1,700 animals. This is increasing all the time as we are a recovery center for aquatic and exotic turtles. We are removing them from the French ecosystem, it’s a big mission, these are animals which have absolutely nothing to do in our waterways where they consume all our biodiversity“.

The rescue operation after the Vidauban fire will last around ten days to try to save as many specimens as possible. Some survivors are equipped with GPS beacons to collect data for scientific purposes.

Potential walkers are recommended not to intervene and to contact the association if in doubt.

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