Fires are raging in the wetlands of west-central Brazil, leaving behind a vast swath of charred ruins in a paradise of biodiversity. The enormous fires have destroyed nearly 12% of the world’s largest tropical wetland, partially reducing to ashes one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet.
The fires, often set by ranchers and farmers to clear land but exacerbated by the most severe drought in 47 years, are out of control, authorities say.
The Pantanal, which also covers areas of Bolivia and Paraguay, is home to roughly 1,200 vertebrate animal species, including 36 that are threatened with extinction. The region is home to rare birds and the world's densest population of jaguars.
Scientists say the magnitude of the loss cannot be estimated. Satellites of the National Institute for Space Research reported that from January to September, 14,764 fire spots swept the Brazilian side of this biome, an increase of 214% from the same period in 2019.
The fires in the Pantanal this year quadruple the size of the largest fire in Brazil's Amazon rainforest, according to the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Pantanal is smaller and less-known than the Amazon jungle, but the region has abundant waters and a strategic location.
The fires in the Brazilian Amazon are becoming stronger, aggravated by deforestation, for which environmentalists blame President Jair Bolsonaro, accusing him of encouraging intervention in protected lands.
Brazil’s Chief Justice has tested positive for Covid-19, less than a week after taking the top position on the country’s Supreme Court.
Luiz Fux will be isolated at home for 10 days, during which he “intends to conduct the session of the virtual plenary on Wednesday,” his press office said in a statement Monday, adding, “he may have contracted the novel coronavirus at a family lunch last Saturday.”
He joins a long line of high-profile Brazilian power players to contract the virus. President Jair Bolsonaro announced in early July that he had tested positive. Many cabinet members have also contracted Covid, as have at least 12 out of 27 state governors.
Brazil is a global epicenter for the virus; as of Sunday the country counted 4.3 million cases and 131,00 deaths.