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News > Brazil

Brazil: Matto Grosso Declares Emergency Over Pantanal Fires

  • Detail of the burned leg of an agouti or

    Detail of the burned leg of an agouti or "cutia" rescued from a forest fire, on September 13, 2020 in Porto Jofre, Mato Grosso state (Brazil). | Photo: EFE/Rogerio Florentino

Published 15 September 2020

In the last 48 hours, more than 8.900 hotspots were registered, and the smoke is expected to head  towards the southeast of Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay as well as the northeast of Argentina by Thursday.

Brazil's state of Matto Grosso do Soul declared on Monday a state of environmental emergency as massive wildfires have destroyed over 15 percent of Pantanal, the world's largest wetland.


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Matto Grosso do Soul's governor Reinaldo Azambuja announced via Twitter that the decree will last over 90 days and will allow it to fight more hotspots and tackle the fires.

The region, which extends over 150.000 sq km in Brazil and also areas of Bolivia and Paraguay, recorded an increase of 200 percent fires compared to last year. According to Brazil's Articulation of Indigenous People, the area burned is 15 times the size of Sao Paulo.

The Pantanal is estimated to shelter 1.200 vertebrate species, including 36 at risk of extinction. Local media outlets report that some animals, like deers, birds, and felines, are reaching the Transpanteneira highway, where volunteers rescue them. Nonetheless, animals such as crocodiles and agouti are among the most vulnerable.

"09/14 - Mato Grosso | The municipality of Cáceres on the Brazilian border with Bolivia. Video: Giovani Almeida Gonçalves."

teleSUR's correspondent in Brazil, Nacho Lemus, reports that in the last 48 hours more than 8.900 hotspots were registered and the smoke is expected to head southeast of Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay as well as northeast of Argentina by Thursday.

While hundreds of environment activists rush to rescue Pantanal's endangered wildlife, citizens from San Francisco de Asis municipality, at the Brazilian border with Argentina and Uruguay, have reported a "dark rain" over the area. The residents associate the black water with massive clouds of smoke coming from Pantanal.

Matto Grosso's authorities report that 79 municipalities are affected by severe drought as fires have also extended to the state of Tocantins north of the country.

On the other hand, Brazil's environmental organization Climate Observatory denounced that during the first 15 days of September, there were registered more hotspots that the same month in 2019. 

The state government has blamed ranchers and farmers for the fires since they set it to clear land. Nevertheless, experts warned that the frequency of such practice has led to the most severe drought in 47 years.

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