At the Athénas centre, in the heart of the Jura, Gilles, Lorane and Manon have their sight firmly set towards the future of the planet. But it is daily that they bring their beautiful project to life. That of hosting and curing injured wild animals before setting them free again in nature. We met them and discovered their unfailing commitment to biodiversity. A great time!
Wildlife at risk
On the blue planet, all warning lights are red. And wildlife is no exception. In less than 50 years, the world has lost more than two thirds of its wild animal species. This is a tragedy for biodiversity and for the balance of all, animals and humans alike. And yet we, humans, are mainly responsible for this, through the evolution in our lifestyles.
Saving, caring, releasing
It is indeed every day that wild animals are subjected to the actions of human beings. Collisions, predation, poaching, trafficking, power lines and other dangers make our planet an increasingly hostile place for wildlife. Fortunately, there are also unique places where they are cared for. This is the case of the Athénas centre which is dedicated to saving injured wild animals so that they can get another chance.
A top team for top caring
The Athénas Centre is above all a story of people: salaried employees, but also volunteers and people on civic service.
The 3 employees, all certified carers, dedicate their expertise to make their dream come true: that of “a world where we are not in constant search for growth but for the right balance. A world where a non-aggressive cohabitation with biodiversity can be achieved.”
In the team, we have Gilles Moyne, the committed and passionate co-founder. Driven by a compelling need, he “left Paris to take action in and for nature“. He started by being the administrator of a wildlife reserve in 1986, before rapidly moving on to launch the Centre in 1987, following the fortuitous arrival of an Athenas’ owl which gave its name to the association.
We also have Lorane Mouzon-Moyne, a biology and eco-epidemiology graduate. Struck by the decline in biodiversity, she quickly switched to action: “I could no longer stick to studying animals. As what will we have left to study when the fauna has disappeared?”. For 10 years, she has been working at the centre, alongside her husband Gilles.
Finally, we have Manon Clerc. Following her studies in paleontology, she joined the centre in March 2021 and is working relentlessly to “repair human actions“, as she puts it.
The 3 carers are also supported by a valuable network of volunteers covering 11 departments to help animals in distress, as well as by civic service volunteers who give some of their time to learn in return. As, for the association, preserving biodiversity is also about raising awareness amongst future generations.
A fast-growing activity
One thing is certain, at the Athénas centre, there are never too many hands! The number of rescued animals has doubled in 5 years to reach nearly 3,500 in 2020. Hedgehogs, black swifts, kestrels, swallows, buzzards… but also lynxes, as the centre is the only structure in France specialising in felines.
Saving the lynx, in exclusivity at Athénas
A historical resident
The lynx and the Athénas centre, a long story that started as far back as 1989, when Gilles rescued the first of the many to come super-predators. The team has a veritable soft spot for these emblems of wildlife and holds them in high regards: “The lynx is a highly accomplished result of evolution. It is very thrifty in managing its physical resources and its food, which is definitely something that humanity should learn from.”
As you can easily imagine, taking care of lynxes is no small task! It requires the most specialised expertise: in breeding, in care, but also in topography, since once released, the team keeps an eye on the felines, from a distance, via a GPS.
At the Equestrio Foundation, we decided to contribute to the well-being of the felines during their stay at the centre by financing a video surveillance system that allows the carers to monitor the evolution of the lynx in their enclosures, while limiting the stress generated by humans. An excellent way, as Manon would say, to “watch the fauna and flora around us with respect rather than trying to tame it.”
Once again, this project is a wonderful illustration that behind all great endeavours, there are great women and men… But there is also funding! The smooth running of the centre largely relies upon the generosity of various donors. So, if you too would like to contribute to this project, don’t hesitate to make a donation here. 👈
 Between 1970 and 2016, 68% of wildlife disappeared, according to the Living Planet Index, a reference tool published every two years by the WWF.