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Amazon rainforest fires threaten 265 endangered species, WWF warns; The WWF has revealed that the Amazon rainforest fires have increased threats to 265 endangered species of plants and animals.

Byline: Shivali Best

Over the last two months, wildfires raging in theAmazon rainforest have hit a record high, with the burning so extensive that it can be seen from space.

The surge marks an 83% increase over the same period of 2018, and is the highest since records began in 2013.

Most of the fires are in the Amazon basin, which is home to about three million species of plants andanimals, and one million indigenous people.

Now, theWWF has revealed that the fires have increased threats to 265 endangered species of plants and animals.

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And worryingly, the WWF warns that the worst of the forest fires is likely still ahead.

The 265 engendered species include the giant armidillo, the white-lipped peccary and the giant anteater.

Meanwhile, 124 of the species include wildlife that only occur in the Amazon rainforest's unique microcosm.

Mauricio Voivodic, executive director of WWF-Brazil, said: "We need to protect and maintain healthy and productive forests.

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"There needs to be a clear signal from the government and society that Brazil no longer accepts the destruction of its main biological heritage.

"The federal government should ensure that protected areas and indigenous lands are effectively protected from illegal occupations and activities.

"The corporate sector also has an important role to play in monitoring its supply chains to ensure the purchase of deforestation-free products."

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Fires in the Amazon sometimes occur naturally, ignited by heat from the sun or a lightning strike. However, the majority of wildfires are the result of human carelessness.

According to the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), the large number of wildfires cannot be attributed to the dry season or natural phenomena alone.

"There is nothing abnormal about the climate this year or the rainfall in the Amazon region, which is just a little below average," said INPE researcher Alberto Setzer.

"The dry season creates the favourable conditions for the use and spread of fire, but starting a fire is the work of humans, either deliberately or by accident."

Wildfires raging in the Amazon rainforest hit record numbers

Amazon wildfires

In the Amazon, some farmers deliberately set fire to the forest, in order to clear the land for cattle ranching - a practice which is highly illegal.

While the Amazon rainforest is over 5,000 miles away from the UK, we have a role to play to halt the fires, according to the WWF.

Sarah Hutchison, head of conservation programmes for Latin America at WWF-UK, said: "Although these fires are on the other side of the planet, their impacts are global.

"We can't stop a climate catastrophe without saving the Amazon. We in the UK have a role to play in halting the deforestation - largely to clear land to produce food - that is the root cause of the fires.

"The UK Government must end the importation of products that cause deforestation and forbid their sale in the UK. We need our leaders to work with other global governments to tackle the global deforestation emergency at the UN climate meetings in September, and ensure a rapid transition to a climate and nature friendly future."


Credit: Michael Dantas

Credit: WWF

Giant anteater

Credit: David Lawson / WWF-UK

Bush dog

Credit: WWF

Giant otter
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Title Annotation:Science
Publication:Daily Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 9, 2019
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