Fires Ravage Brazil’s Pantanal, World’s Largest Wetland

Firefighters in Brazil say strong winds and hot dry weather are making it difficult to battle thousands of blazes burning in the Pantanal, the world’s largest wetland. Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) said it spotted more than 3,100 fires in the first two weeks of August — five times as many as the same period last year. “We saw hundreds of fires along the journey throughout the day,” Brazilian Environment Minister Ricardo Salles said Tuesday. “Places where the planes and firemen have fought the fires directly without stopping, but still the fires are causing great damage to fauna, flora and to the Pantanal region.”  The Pantanal is 10 times the size of Florida’s Everglades. The World Wildlife Fund says it is home to more than 4,700 plant and animal species, including some threatened animals. Experts blame the fires, in part, to higher than average temperatures and below average rainfall since mid-July.  

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