The Jura – its forests, lakes, plateaux and the treasures of its flora and fauna. Fancy a trip? For its second episode, “Equestrio Foundation In Action” is taking you to L’Etoile, at the heart of the Athénas Centre, for 2 days of voluntary work with a team of fully dedicated wildlife enthusiasts!
A team dedicated to saving wildlife
For more than 30 years, the Athénas Centre has been taking in injured wild animals to cure them before returning them to their natural environment. With the help of a regional network of 285 volunteers out in the field, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and other specimens are transferred to this very special wildlife emergency centre to be cared for by the teams there who dedicate their daily life to safeguarding our biodiversity. You have to experience it to believe it, and that’s exactly what we did!
In the shoes of an animal keeper
Last April, Alicia (our founder), Charlotte (our Operations Manager), Lolita (our Communications Manager) and Bertille (our talented video-maker) had the pleasure of spending 2 days volunteering at the Jura refuge. They enjoyed a first-hand insight into the hectic and exhausting day-to-day life of the centre’s staff, in particular that of Gilles Moyne and Lorane Mouzon-Moyne, the managers who work tirelessly to restore the local wildlife.
We were impressed by the multitude of tasks and diversity of skills required to run such a centre.
Top notch animal emergency facilities
Every year, the centre takes in almost 4,500 animals, 96% of them being the victims of human activity.
On our first day at the centre, we witnessed no fewer than 15 newly injured animals in need of urgent treatment. Reception, diagnosis, first aid…just like our own hospital emergencies, but without the long waiting and the bad coffee in a plastic cup! Once the critical cases dealt with, we set off to take care of the resident animals: birds of prey with broken wings, orphaned fox cubs, turtles and bats… No time to get bored!
And finally, the highlight of the day: setting free cured animals. The ultimate reward for the teams, who all tirelessly pursue the same objective: to care for and rehabilitate injured animals before returning them to their natural environment. We were lucky enough to witness the release of a number of animals, including an eagle-owl, buzzards and storks.
Immersion in the world of lynxes
It’s impossible to tell you about our time at Athénas without mentioning its special guests: 3 magnificent lynxes and the serval cat housed at the centre, which is the only refuge in France specialising in the care of felids saved from animal trafficking or collisions.
It was an opportunity for us to see for ourselves the usefulness of the video surveillance system financed by Equestrio Foundation in 2021, which enables the lynxes to be observed in their enclosure while avoiding too much interaction with humans.
At the heart of the action: in the forest
It was precisely with this golden rule in mind that we set off on our second day to the Haut-Doûbs, the territory of Mora, a young female lynx who had been released last summer after 3 months of care following a road traffic collision. Out of sight, but never out of mind! The aim of this trip to the forest? To discreetly check on her condition and set video traps with the hope of getting the good news of a pregnancy.
Saving the lynx
It is through actions such as these that the Athénas Centre has been contributing for 3 decades now to the conservation of the lynx, a species on the verge of extinction in France within the next 30 years if no additional conservation measures are taken. Poaching, loss of natural habitats, collisions… the lynx is bearing the full brunt of the consequences of human activity. On top of this, their future is jeopardized by the inbreeding issue: of the 150 felids remaining in France, too few are able to reproduce with sufficient genetic diversity to ensure the survival of the species.
These 2 days at the Centre Athénas enabled us to witness first-hand the immensity of the work accomplished by this organisation. An unfailing devotion to the service of our biodiversity that is bearing fruit. Each animal rescued is another precious link preserved for the sustainability of our ecosystems.
Well done to the centre’s teams for doing such a wonderful job! Of course, we’ll continue to support them with other fundings, which we’ll be telling you all about very soon!