Shelter saves parched animals as France bakes in third heat wave

SAINT-CEZAIRE-SUR-SIAGNE, France, Aug 2 (Reuters) – As temperatures rise again in southern France, Laura Borderes uses a syringe to feed a baby squirrel currently in the care of her animal shelter.

The squirrel is one of around 200 birds and small mammals found suffering from dehydration or malnutrition in the dry hills behind the Riviera and currently being cared for at the Saint-Cézaire-sur-Siagne refuge near Nice.

“It’s a very, very hot summer,” Borderes said. “They can’t stand on their own and so we pick them up, we breed them.”

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As France endures its third heatwave of the summer, scorching temperatures are forcing young birds and hedgehogs to leave their nests before they can fend for themselves and are drying up streams, lakes and ponds where they usually breed insects that small creatures feed on.

The prolonged heat and drought risked damaging local biodiversity, said the founder of the refuge, Hélène Bovalis.

“When one species’ health is affected,” Bovalis said, referring to insects, “other species also suffer.”

“We are facing a series of very serious events in which we play a lookout role, a kind of observatory that registers these imbalances and tries to compensate for them through our rescue actions.”

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Reporting by Eric Gaillard; written by Layli Foroudi, edited by Alexandra Hudson

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