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  • Image of a hyacinth macaw, Brazil.

    Image of a hyacinth macaw, Brazil. | Photo: Twitter/ @leticiasilly

Published 24 August 2020
Opinion

"The crisis is far from over as the usual rains do not return until October," journalists ​​​​​​​reported.

In Brazil, wildfires ravaging the Pantanal are destroying the refuge areas of the Hyacinth Macaw (Araras-Azuis), the world's flying largest parrot.

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"Without mercy, the fires in the Pantanal are devastating San Francisco do Perigara, a wildlife sanctuary that concentrates 15 percent of the free population of this species," local outlet Folha de Sao Paulo reported.

While wildfires in the Amazon grabbed international headlines last year, this year’s worst affected ecosystem has been the Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetland area, which is tucked away in the west of Brazil and extends across the border into Bolivia and Paraguay. 

The driving force behind the spread of wildfires in the region is illegal and uncontrolled deforestation.  The unsustainable extraction of natural resources, however, has been fostered by the far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who undermined the environmental policies and institutions that Brazil built over the past decades.

“This year, there has not been enough rain and the Pantanal has been very dry,” the Hyacinth Macaw Project President Neiva Guedes said.

Although the fires have not yet spread to the parrots’ main nesting area, the surrounding region has been all but razed by the flames, depriving the birds of food and safe spaces to raise their young.  

The hyacinth macaws’ principal habitat is located in the far north of the Pantanal and backs up against the border of the Perigara Indigenous reserve, which is home to the Bororo Indigenous People.  

The region is now used for cattle farming, but the ranch is home to a grove of palm trees that has been a feeding ground for generations of hyacinth macaws and other parrot species.

"Most of these palm trees have already been consumed by fire... Some 11,000 hectares were burned in Perigara... Another devastated area is the Pantanal Private Natural Heritage Reserve... The red-hot logs remind us that the crisis is far from over as the usual rains do not return until October," Folha do Sao Paulo explained.

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