Amazon Forest Fires May Have Already Destroyed Thousands Of Animal Species

Amazon Forest Fires May Have Already Destroyed Thousands Of Animal Species

The Amazon is home to 10 percent of all animal species in the world and some have adapted to niche habitats of the forest like the Milton's Titi monkey and the Toucans. There are fears that the raging forest fire might have led to the extinction of a few species and endangered others.

The Amazon forests are on fire, and no one seems to be bothered by this catastrophe, least of all the Brazillian government.  The Amazon is considered to be one of the biggest lung spaces in the world, and people aren't concerned that 1 in  10 living species of animals on earth live here whose natural habitat has been destroyed.  The environmental implications of the fires will manifest itself in all kinds of ways very soon in the future. A large part of the forests fall under Brazil but the country's Prime Minister, Jair Bolsenaro has clearly stated that his government does not have the resources to fight the fires - a clear dereliction of duties as a leader of the country but frankly no one is surprised.



Shortly after coming into power, Bolsenaro indicated that he planned to open up the Amazon for business. Some believe that the fires were deliberately started. Species of animals in the Amazon are not adapted to face forest fires unlike those in the USA and Australia where fires are necessary for the ecosystem there according to  National Geographic. For example, the black-bellied woodpecker, found in western USA only nests in burnt-out trees and eats beetles inside burned wood. Eucalyptus trees in Australia would die without regular fires, say experts. 



While forest fires have occurred in the Amazon before, it has not been witnessed on such a massive scale right now. Since last week, at least 9,000 wildfires have been raging at the same time and these also include the areas under Bolivia, Paraguay, and Peru. There are fears that many species of animals that are native to these forests could have even gone extinct due to the fires, or their status in the endangered list could have been fast-tracked because of it.  In 2011, the Milton’s titi monkey species was discovered for the first time in the southern Amazon that’s currently beset by fire and one fears for the worst for the animals.


The Mura’s saddleback tamarin, another monkey species, found in central Brazil could have also been affected by the fires, researchers believe. Carlos César Durigan, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society of Brazil said, "I (fear) we may be losing many of these endemic species." Amphibians that partially dwell in small water bodies and creeks will also be threatened since raging fires burn right over these small water bodies. Additionally, they could also change the water chemistry to make it unsustainable for life in the short term, said Mazeika Sullivan from the Ohio State University. 



Sullivan, an associate professor at the School of Environment and Natural Resources, has done fieldwork in the Colombian Amazon. Many 'specialists' species adapted to the niche Amazon habitat like Toucans who eat fruits that other animals can’t access could also be severely affected them since the wildfire could destroy their food supply. Spider monkeys could also suffer the same fate. "What happens when you lose the canopy? They’re forced into other areas with more competition. Once you take the rainforest away, (you lose) 99 percent of all species," said Sullivan. 



The only animals who could escape or benefit from the fires are fast-moving ones like Jaguars and Pumas who are very mobile and could move away from the fires. Raptors are other species who would benefit but these are very small in number. Others like sloths, lizards, and frogs would quickly die. "In the Amazon, nothing is adapted to fire. Basically, the Amazon hadn’t burnt in hundreds of thousands or millions of years," said William Magnusson, a researcher at the National Institute of Amazonian Research (INPA) in Manaus, Brazil who specializes in biodiversity monitoring and added. 

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