Saving animals on Mount Parnitha

Saving animals on Mount Parnitha

It’s Saturday, August 26, 5 p.m. Maria T. was driving her daughter, Dimitra S., by car to Fyli, in West Attica. Maria tells me: “We traversed the desolation of the burned landscape; the sky was cloudy, and you felt as though you were immersed in a painting by Goya. The sensation persisted from the moment we exited the Attiki Odos highway and entered Fyli. Colors had vanished, leaving only shades of black, white and gray. As we ascended a hill, all within the confines of the car, aiming to reach the rendezvous point, we observed them: hundreds of young individuals parking their cars and ascending, pairs at a time, singles and in groups, all converging toward the designated meeting spot. Clutching what Anima requested in their hands – animal crates, water, lettuce, cucumbers, masks and gardening gloves – this procession, characterized by its silence, vibrancy, youthful aura, serenity, and absence of noise, ascended the charred mountain.” Among the numerous young participants was Dimitra S., who signed up for the initiative organized by Anima, a wildlife protection and care association.

These are the young people who are documenting deceased animals and rescuing those that are still living and in need. On Saturday, around 200 children took part, and the numbers exceeded 400 on Sunday.

‘Today, you shall bear witness to death. However, you shall also witness life’s resilience, and in the end, emerge stronger’

I inquire about the live animals they came across. Maria informs me that they encountered numerous turtles, a snake, six lizards, three or four dogs, a sheep (unfortunately it didn’t survive), and many dead animals. On Sunday, this dedicated group of children managed to save 67 turtles, a juvenile four-lined snake, and a European mantis.

These actions were chronicled in a social media post by Giorgos Misseyannis, who runs the Misseyannis coffee shop in the downtown neighborhood of Kolonaki. He writes: “Parnitha, shortly after the devastation. A mix of melancholy and hope… Today (note: Sunday) afternoon, the organizations Anima and Save your Hood organized an initiative for the detection and rescue of wildlife in the scorched zones of Parnitha, specifically in the vicinity of the Monastery of the Nativity of Theotokos in Dardiza. The motto of the initiative was ‘to save whatever can be saved.’ An assembly of approximately 450 volunteers, predominantly youngsters, women and families with children, congregated, surpassing the organizers’ expectations, fostering a profoundly hopeful ambiance. Many turtles were located and saved (including one by me, which evoked both sentiment and pride), alongside several other species. Predictably, there were more deceased animals, and the area was riddled with burrows, possibly dug in attempts to survive. I convey the coordinator’s words: ‘Many among you recall the paradise that once thrived here. That’s vanished, lost for the next 25 years, at minimum. Today, you shall bear witness to death. However, you shall also witness life’s resilience, and in the end, emerge stronger.’ And, indeed, that is what happened. Because even the existence of a modest turtle holds value… Much applause is warranted for such endeavors.”

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