Firefighters collapse from exhaustion, animals saved as wildfires rage on in Bolivia
UNTV News • September 20, 2019 • 151
Firefighters battling raging wildfires in Bolivia were evacuated to hospitals in Santa Cruz on Thursday (September 19) after they collapsed from exhaustion.
Blazes have burned unabated across vast swaths of hilly forest and savannah near Bolivia’s border with Paraguay and Brazil. More than a million hectares, or approximately 3,800 square miles, have been impacted by the fires, officials have said.
The fires have left behind an uncountable death toll of flora and fauna. These animals in this refuge are the lucky ones.
This anteater has its paws bandaged after they were burnt by hot earth.
Bolivia is one of the poorest nations in the western hemisphere, but one of the richest in biodiversity. Swathes of the country has been left charred, barren from the fires and will be unable to sustain animal life for a while to come.
A Human Rights Watch report on Tuesday (September 17) found that more than 300 people have been killed over the past decade in conflicts over the use of land and resources in the Amazon, many by organized criminal networks profiting from illegal deforestation.
Of those cases, only 14 were tried in court, the non-profit said the report was based on 170 interviews.
“This really shows the level of impunity,” Cesar Munoz, a senior investigator at Human Rights Watch told Reuters on the sidelines of an event in Sao Paulo to discuss the report.
About 60% of the Amazon rainforest, considered a crucial barrier against climate change, lies in Brazil. Destruction of the forest has surged this year, and the highest number of fires since 2010 has drawn worldwide condemnation of the policies of President Jair Bolsonaro, who advocates opening the Amazon to development.
Human Rights Watch traveled to several Brazilian states between 2017 and the first half of this year to research the report, which showed that almost half of the murders linked to deforestation took place in the Northern state of Para.
Bolsonaro has weakened Brazil’s environmental enforcement agency Ibama, cut its budget by 25% and restricted the ability of field agents to torch the equipment of those found committing environmental crimes, Reuters has reported.
Bolivia’s battle against wildfires rages on as the country uses any resource it can, from a 747 Supertanker to the humble shovels and machetes of volunteer fire-fighters, to bring a halt to the blazes.
The 747 Supertanker could be seen flying over the dry hills near Tarija, Bolivia on Monday (September 16) dousing fires with thousands of gallons of water.
Meanwhile, in Santa Cruz, family members of fire-fighters who lost their lives while on duty laid them to rest at funerals.
Local media report that two fire-fighters died of cardiac arrest in recent days.
Blazes have burned largely unabated across vast swaths of hilly 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 have said.
Some 2,000 fire-fighters have been mobilized. But the country is amongst the poorest in the region, forcing many in the fire brigade to battle flames with whatever resources they can muster. (REUTERS)
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