Flames that are currently ravaging in Brazil’s Pantanal, the world’s largest wetland, have threatened numerous endangered species as the fires reach almost record-breaking numbers.
Inpe, Brazil’s national space research agency, has registered over 3,121 fires during the first 15 days of August, which is almost five times more than the fires during the same period in 2019.
If the fires continue at their current rate, they could reach an all-time record since the records began being taken back in 1998.
Local firefighters worked hard to fill the burning earth with water, with clouds of smoke filling numerous parts of the area.
Environment Minister Ricardo Salles speaking during a visit to Mato Gross State to see the work being done by the firefighters in the Pantanal, claimed that the firefighters and officials are facing a tough challenge to slow down the spread of the fires.
He said that “The atmosphere is very hot, very dry, with strong winds and high temperatures”, with all of these factors helping the spread of fires.
He added that they “saw hundreds of fires along the journey throughout the day. Places where the planes and firemen have fought the fires directly without stopping, but still the fires are causing great damage to fauna, flora and to the Pantanal region”.
According to government data, during the period from January to July, around 6% of the Pantanal, or approximately 8,500 square kilometres, burned and suffered from the fires.
The Pantanal is one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, having more than 4,700 plant and animal species, with the WWF reporting that some of the world’s most threatened species live in the area, such as the jaguar.
Additionally, the wetlands are home to the blue Hyacinth Macaw parrots, the largest flying parrot species in the world.
The region has suffered from 30 day of below-average rainfall, as well as higher-than-average temperatures, according to Refinitiv.
Paulo Barroso, president of the local firefighting committee, claimed that “It is extremely difficult to combat, control and combat again a fire with the dimensions that we have seen here in the Pantanal”.
This continues to add pressure on the Brazilian government, who had to manage one of the biggest forest fires ever last year when the Amazon rainforest suffered increases in destruction by 88% during June 2019 when compared to the same month in 2018.