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Forest fires devastate Brazil's Pantanal tropical wetlands

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image captionA firefighter tries to put out a forest fire in Porto Jofre, Mato Grosso state, Brazil

There have been more than 15,000 fires in Brazil's Pantanal wetlands so far this year, causing widespread devastation. That is triple the number recorded in the same period in 2019, according to data collected by Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (Inpe).

A satellite map published by Inpe shows the fires burning in the Pantanal, collected using satellites that measure blazes larger than 30m-long by 1m-wide.

This article contains images some people may find upsetting.

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image captionA drone image of the devastation caused by the fires in the Pantanal region of Mato Grosso

The wetlands is one of the world's most bio-diverse areas.

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image captionA deer tries to escape a fire in the Pantanal

In total 15,756 fires have been detected in the region so far this year, compared with 5,109 recorded in the same period last year.

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image captionSmoke rises into the air as trees burn amongst vegetation in the Pantanal

Brazil's National Centre for the Prevention of Forest Fires (Prevfogo) calculates that 2.9m hectares of the Pantanal have burned so far in 2020.

A state of emergency has been declared in the states of Mato Grosso do Sul and Mato Grosso.

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image captionA drone shows a river in an area devastated by forest fires

Environment Minister Ricardo Salles says the fires have spread to "gigantic proportions".

Nevertheless, President Jair Bolsonaro said on Wednesday that the criticism levelled against his government over the fires in the Pantanal and also in the Amazon region had been "disproportionate".

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image captionA jaguar crosses a river near Porto Jofre, Mato Grosso state

The basin, which thrives off annual flooding following torrential rains, is home to jaguars, piranhas, capuchin monkeys, green anacondas and thousands of plant species.

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image captionA number of jaguars fleeing the fires are moving towards one corner of the Encontro das Aguas State Park

Forest fires often occur naturally in the dry season in Brazil but they are also deliberately started by ranchers trying to clear land for cattle.

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image captionA drone image shows a burnt out building in the middle of the forest

Experts say it is impossible to calculate yet how many animals have been killed by the fires, but losses are feared to be huge.

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image captionA caiman killed by fire
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image captionSmoke fills the air in the Pantanal
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image captionA veterinarian helps a coati with fire burns on its legs in Pocone, Mato Grosso state
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image captionA burnt-out turtle shell
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image captionVeterinarians feed a deer affected by the blazes

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  • Brazil

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