More than 2 million animals perish in Bolivia wildfires

This snake could not escape the flames of a fire in the Otuquis National Park in eastern Bolivia
This snake could not escape the flames of a fire in the Otuquis National Park in eastern Bolivia

More than two million wild animals, including jaguars, pumas and llamas, have perished in weeks of wildfires that devastated huge swaths of Bolivian forest and grassland, environmental experts said Wednesday.

The fires devastated the Chiquitania tropical savanna in the east of the country.

"We have consulted the biologists of Chiquitania and we have exceeded the estimate of more than 2.3 million missing animals in many protected areas," Professor Sandra Quiroga of Santa Cruz University told AFP.

Latin American ocelots, and other wild cats like pumas and jaguars, as well as deer, llamas—and smaller like anteaters, badgers, lizards, tapirs and rodents—were victims of the fires, according to biologists investigating the scale of the damage.

Local media showed images of charred animal carcasses in the smouldering forests and birds fleeing to zones spared by the flames.

The fires, which have devastated more than four million hectares (10 million acres) since August, has completely destroyed the "primary forest" extending over 100 hectares in the Tucavaca reserve in the eastern Santa Cruz department.

"The forest is totally charred and the damage is irreversible. It will never get back to normal," said Quiroga.

  • "The forest is totally charred and the damage is irreversible. It will never get back to normal," said Sandra Quiroga
    "The forest is totally charred and the damage is irreversible. It will never get back to normal," said Sandra Quiroga of Santa Cruz University
  • The remains of a fox killed in a forest fires in the Otuquis National Park in eastern Bolivia
    The remains of a fox killed in a forest fires in the Otuquis National Park in eastern Bolivia

The eastern department of Santa Cruz has been the hardest hit of Bolivia's nine departments since the fires began in May and intensified in late August

Bolivia in August enlisted special firefighting planes, a Supertanker Boeing 747 and a Russian Ilyushin, as well as helicopters, 5,000 firefighters, soldiers and police but the fires have still not been extinguished.

Environmentalists blame laws enacted under leftist President Evo Morales, who has encouraged burning of forest and pasture land to expand agricultural production.

The government attributes the blazes to dry weather and flame-fanning winds.


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© 2019 AFP

Citation: More than 2 million animals perish in Bolivia wildfires (2019, September 26) retrieved 17 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-09-million-animals-perish-bolivia-wildfires.html
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Sep 26, 2019
"The forest is totally charred and the damage is irreversible. It will never get back to normal,"
What idiocy. That's exactly what forests do when left alone and given enough time. It'll never get back to normal because it's about to be covered in farms.

Sep 26, 2019
There is no 'normal' in nature. Things are changing all the time. Hydrocarbon deposits were deposited similarly during Cretaceous. Animals come and go, vegetation comes and goes. It is the human who has defined 'normal' what he thinks is good for him.

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