Wildfires have taken over Brazil's Encontro das Aguas state park in the Pantanal, located at the border of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul states. The park known for its jaguar population and firefighters, environmentalists and ranchers in the world’s largest tropical wetlands are struggling to save the animals and their homeland.
As per reports, for some time the rivers helped in keeping the fire under control but as the wind took over, the wildfires have spread across the park and have been burning for over a week now.
As the blaze rages on, the worst seems yet to come. Mato Grosso firefighters’ spokeswoman Lt. Col. Sheila Sebalhos said, “The forecast isn’t good. High speeds of those winds that change direction many times throughout the day are favoring the rapid spread (of fire)”.
According to an international wild cat conservation organization Panthera, about 200 jaguars have been affected due to the wildfires; many have been heavily injured or displaced and some have even died. Pantanal houses thousands of plant and animal species, including 159 mammals, and while it is located majorly in Brazil and the wetlands stretch into Bolivia and Paraguay. As per reports, the fires here are mostly unintentional, unlike Amazon where ranchers often use fire to clear brush.
According to Brazil defence ministry, 173 members of the armed forces have been dispatched to Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul states. About 139 firefighters are also reported to have been sent to tame the blaze.
In a live broadcast on Facebook, President Jair Bolsonaro said, “I started to suffer criticism because the Pantanal is on fire. You can imagine the difficulty of fighting the fire in that area”.
On the other hand in the United States, California wildfires have been burning for more than three weeks now. As per reports, more wildfires have also taken other parts of the US as far as Washington. In a ray of hope, the fires has now smoothened in Colorado and Montana due to a dramatic intrusion of polar air.
Earlier, United States National Weather Service said, “The significantly colder air mass is helping reduce critical fire conditions across the West, however most of West coastline and adjacent counties have Red Flag warnings in effect"
(WIth AP Inputs)