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World's largest wetland on fire: Brazil's Pantanal

Thursday, September 17th 2020, 12:03 pm - The largest fires in Pantanal this year are four times the size of that in the Amazon rainforest.

Fires continue to rage through the wilderness of the Brazilian Pantanal, the world's largest wetland, as images emerged Wednesday (16 September).

Firefighters have their work cut out for them, as the fires blaze through dry underbrush and riverbanks.

Lesser known than its cousin, the Amazon jungle, the 150,000-square kilometre Pantanal is sandwiched between the rainforest and Paraguay's dry forests.

Since mid-July a fire has been burning, leaving in its wake a region of destruction, bigger than New York City.

The Pantanal is home to roughly 1,200 vertebrate species, including 36 that are threatened with extinction. Rare birds and jaguars are also known to roam.

Local animal rescue team member Eduarda Fernandes said animals are now in grave danger: "We don't see ants, crabs, and this is food for different types of animals. Animals will die not only due to the fires but also due to dehydration and hunger.''

Fires in the region are nothing new, as ranchers used them to return nutrients to the soil at a low cost.

The world's largest flood plain usually fills with water during the rainy season from November to April. But this year's fires are burning with historic force, and scientists blame the drought on warming in the Atlantic Ocean.

A farm worker, Dorvalino Conceicao Camargo, told Reuters he had never seen a fire as big as this:

"The fields have dried up after receiving no rain for three months. We don't even know whether it will rain in September. I hope it does, otherwise, what will we do? All of my water tanks are dry. There is no water. Cattle are suffering, not only the cattle, we are all suffering.''

The largest fires in Pantanal this year are four times the size of that in the Amazon rainforest.

Climate scientists warn these climate-driven fires from California to Australia could become a new normal.

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