Jaguar reserve under threat from Brazil wildfires

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New Delhi (NVI): The wildfires raging in the Brazil’s Pantanal, the biggest tropical wetlands, are threatening a nature reserve known as the home to the world’s largest jaguar population.

The firefighters, ranchers, scientists, environmentalists and local residents are banding together to try to hold back the blazes and save the jaguars, as per the Brazilian authorities.

These fires are burning in a region known as the Pantanal, which is considered one of the most biologically diverse regions on the planet.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Pantanal is also home to thousands of other plant and animal species, including 159 mammals, toucans, caiman, giant otters and giant anteaters. The jaguars are concentrated in a state park called Encontro das Aguas, or Meeting of Waters.

Nearly, 200 of them have already been killed, injured, or displaced due to the fires, according to Panthera, a big cat conservation group.

In recent days, fires reached the park after scorching more than 8,900 square miles of land across wetland, which starts at the southern end of the Amazon forest and stretches over parts of Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay, according to the reports.

However, the region is used to fires during the dry season, but those who work in the Pantanal say extreme drought, combined with heat and wind, have created a fire situation.

Juliana Camargo, head of the wildlife conservation group AMPARA Animal, said in a statement, “Very few animals survive. The ones that do often suffer very severe effects. They’re burned to the bone, they often have to be euthanized, or die of hunger and thirst.”

The worst part is when the people on the ground fighting the fires tell us, there’s nothing we can do, everything is going to burn. The only hope is for it to rain, but that’s not expected until November, Camargo added.

Lt Col Sheila Sebalhos, a spokeswoman for the firefighters, said that there is no sign of a break in the weather.

The forecast isn’t good, spent weeks in the fire zone, the state capital of Cuiaba, she said, adding that, high speeds of those winds that change direction many times throughout the day are favoring the rapid spread of fire.

“Winds were blamed for carrying sparks into Encontro das Aguas and igniting the fires that affected the jaguars,” Sebalhos added.

-RJV