Group of women with donkeys fight against forest fires in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
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PROVINCIA DE HUELVA – Led by chief donkey Galileo, a herd of donkeys is released every day in the Doñana National Park to prevent forest fires. The animals eat the fuel that devastates much of Spain’s natural surface summer after summer. 

The association ‘Mujeres por Doñana’ consists of women with donkeys who use their animals for forest fire prevention. For the past week, these eighteen donkeys have been released in natural areas that are difficult to access for the firefighters of the Andalucian forest firefighting serviceThe association ‘Mujeres por Doñana’ consists of women with donkeys who use their animals for forest fire prevention. For the past week, these eighteen donkeys have been released in certain natural areas. These areas are difficult to access for the firefighters of the Andalucian forest firefighting service Infoca. 

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Fuel 

On these mobile ‘cortafuegos’ (firebreaks) they graze grass, shrubs and other vegetation all day long.  They are then collected at the beginning of the evening. During the day, volunteers from Mujeres por Doñana walk with the animals with carts filled with buckets of water, so they can quench their thirst. The donkeys prevent the vegetation from growing uncontrollably after the first rain falls. Consequently, this stops if from drying out again the next spring or summer. If this is not done, it forms the perfect fuel for a large forest fire. 

According to the foundation ‘El Burrito Feliz‘ (the happy donkey), the donkeys have done their service. The foundation states in a press release that where these donkeys have been, nature has never been on fire. 

Cumbre Villas

Galileo, the donkey who believes he is a dog 

The chief donkey Galileo is a remarkable animal. His story has already been picked up by the national Spanish media, such as Telecinco, Marca and El Mundo. The animal was rescued at a young age in severely debilitated health. He was then taken care of in a dog shelter for three months before being taken to El Burrito Feliz. According to his current owner, Galileo even believes he is a dog. He would sniff like a dog and some claim he even tries to bark. That behaviour is now convenient because he now keeps the herd of eighteen fire-prevention donkeys under control. 

National and international attention for their work 

The work of this herd receives both national and international attention. Recently, a producer from Australia made a documentary about how a group of women and their donkeys try to save a part of Europe’s most degraded nature. 

Now they travel to the Basque Country where they are invited by various groups who want to set up a donkey fire unit there. 

Government Notice 

In addition, ‘Mujeres por Doñana’ has received a communication from the government of Spain in which the group is “encouraged to continue with their efforts”. That detail kind of encouraged this female group to continue volunteering to defend nature in this environment that is currently in dire conditions. 

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