- Title: Wildlife facing fire, heat, smoke and drought as Bolivian forests blaze
- Date: 27th August 2019
- Summary: CHARAGUA, BOLIVIA (AUGUST 26, 2019) (REUTERS) BURNED TREES WITH NO FOLIAGE ROAD IN MIDDLE OF BURNED FOREST BURNED FOREST SEEN FROM WINDOW OF VEHICLE ARMADILLO DEAD ON BURNED GROUND VARIOUS, SUAREZ WITH DEAD PECCARY DEAD PECCARY ON GROUND SUAREZ WITH DEAD ANIMAL DEAD PACA ON GROUND (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) BOLIVIAN VETERINARIAN, JERJES SUAREZ, SAYING: "Armadillos, we've also seen various types of peccaries completely burned. You will see the Jaguar will also be affected, or the tiger as it's commonly known, the lion, which feeds on those (previously mentioned animals), so when it can't find those animals it will also disappear. There is the problem of dehydration in these animals, and as you've seen, they go out looking for food and many die close to the road."
- Embargoed: 10th September 2019 16:35
- Keywords: forest Bolivia animals wildlife armadillo drought fires Wildfires Amazon smoke
- Location: CHARAGUA, BOLIVIA
- City: CHARAGUA, BOLIVIA
- Country: Bolivia
- Topics: Environment,Nature/Wildlife,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA003ATZVT53
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:What was recently a verdant area of trees and wildlife has become a desolate, barren landscape where life teeters on the brink after wildfires raged through this area of southeastern Bolivia.
Ash has replaced leaves and dead animals scatter the charred earth in this area of the Andean country near its border with Paraguay.
A nearly blind, little armadillo scurries through the charred remains of its forest home before being scooped up by local veterinarian, Jerjes Suarez.
Suarez says that the heat and smoke from the fires is responsible for the deaths of many animals and those that didn't die in the flames are in dire conditions due to the lack of water and food in the wake of the inferno.
Locals told Reuters that no firefighters, no military personnel and no airplanes carrying water have arrived in this area near the town of Charagua to help battle the fires.
Many blazes burn unabated across vast swaths of hilly tropical forest and savannah near Bolivia's border with Paraguay and Brazil. At least 1 million hectares, or approximately 3,800 square miles, have been impacted by the fires, officials said.
Bolivian President Evo Morales said on Sunday (August 25) he was open to international aid to fight the blazes that have engulfed rural villages and doubled in size since Thursday (August 22).
Morales' government had been slow to accept the aid, initially saying it would use its own resources to fight the fires, but pleas from villagers and officials of Santa Cruz province led to an about-face. Argentina, Paraguay, Peru, Chile and Spain have all offered support.
Bolivia late last week contracted a Boeing 747 "Supertanker" from the United States to help with the fire-fighting, and has mobilized more than 2,000 firefighters, as well as small aircraft and helicopters. But the area affected by wildfire has nonetheless nearly doubled since Thursday.
Political rivals accused Morales of a slow response. Some have said his rural development policies have contributing to the problem, as farmers set the forest alight to clear land for pasture and settlement.
Thousands of wildfires are also decimating the neighbouring Brazilian Amazon, the world's largest rainforest. The blazes have nearly doubled this year compared with the same period in 2018, prompting global outrage.
The Amazon basin's vast forests are widely seen by scientists as a buffer against climate change.
Bolivia's portion of the Amazon, while not as extensive, remains heavily forested. The Andean nation is one of the poorest in the western hemisphere but one of the richest in biodiversity.
(Production: Santiago Limachi, Monica Machicao)
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