In 2020, fires in the Brazilian Pantanal have increased more than 230% compared to 2019, according to the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

A vet helps a coati with burns from the fires in the Pantanal.

The wild fauna of the Brazilian Pantanal, with species threatened with extinction, lives epic days every day for their survival and avoiding being hit by the forest fires that are dragged in the largest wetland in the world and they leave a desolate part of the biome shared with Paraguay and Bolivia.In a gloomy setting, with an immense smoke screen and in which the embers raise even more the temperature of up to 43 degrees Celsius in that region of central-western Brazil, the corpses of alligators, large birds, deer, marsupials emerge , cattle and cats who cannot escape the flames.

Dry swamps and scorched vegetation have been turned into an open-air graveyard for hundreds of animals that die burned in its frustrated escape from the fire and, thus, exposed ossuaries are becoming more common in a place that, together with the Amazon, is the engine of ecotourism in the South American giant.

Volunteers and veterinarians rescue an agouti from a fire this Sunday in Porto Jofre, Mato Grosso state (Brazil).

Volunteers and veterinarians rescue an agouti from a fire this Sunday in Porto Jofre, Mato Grosso state (Brazil).
Rogerio FlorentinoEFE

Fight for life

Some animals, generally the fastest in their escape, such as deer, birds and cats, they manage to reach the Transpanteneira highway, which links small urban perimeters in that vast region, to be rescued by volunteers and taken to the only veterinary care center that is operating.The Government has installed since the end of August a post for the animals that arrive injured and the most serious ones are sent to Cuiabá, the regional capital, in helicopters of the aid organizations, but, according to community leaders, they are still missing more veterinary resources to face the havoc on wildlife.“Our teams have achieved rescue fourteen animals, but on the quantification of deaths we do not yet have the concrete data. We have a team collecting the data in the burned areas to make a geographical calculation ”, Karen Ramos Ribeiro, the veterinarian responsible for the reception center, told the EFE agency.

According to Ramos Ribeiro, “small animals and slower ones, such as anteaters and hedgehogs, are the most vulnerable“, Although species such as the jaguar, the third largest feline in the world and the largest in the American continent, are also threatened by fires.

Photograph of a crocodile killed by forest fires in the state of Mato Grosso (Brazil).

Photograph of a crocodile killed by forest fires in the state of Mato Grosso (Brazil).
Rogerio FlorentinoEFE

The biggest fires in two decades

The veterinarian indicated that the impact on the subsoil and species is “enormous”, as well as for the economy of Mato Grosso, an agricultural and livestock state that also has an important source of income in tourism.

“From what we hear from the inhabitants of the region is that this is the biggest fire in more than twenty years. The impact and the area that he took in the last week was 800,000 hectares ”, lamented Ramos Ribeiro.During this 2020, the fires in the Pantanal have increased more than 230% In relation to 2019 and, according to data from the Laboratory for Environmental Satellite Applications (LASA) of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, the flames have already 15% of the nearly 14 million hectares devastated that encompasses this biome in Brazil.

The fires reached the Encontro das Aguas park, located near the border with Paraguay and one of the most tourist places in this biome to be concentrated the largest number of jaguars in the world.With an area of ​​nearly 109,000 hectares, the park is located in Porto Jofre (Mato Grosso), where environmental organizations have begun to assess the impact of fire in the habitat of that feline, known in the country as “painted onça” and which is part of the Brazilian symbolism.