Under the thick blanket of smoke, relentless flames spread with dizzying speed over swaths of Pantanal Matogrossense National Park, its grasslands parched by months of drought. In a charred marshland, the carcass of a crocodile-like caiman lays sprawled on its back. Beyond, ash and burnt shrubs stretch for miles across this protected slice of the Brazilian Pantanal. Wildfires have been ravaging Pantanal Matogrossense National Park for months, invading the vast conservation area from all sides, according to local sources. The blazes have wreaked untold environmental havoc on this rich and complex ecosystem, scorching vegetation, killing animals and leaving countless others without habitat. “The extent of the damage is devastating,” said Vinicius Silgueiro, territorial intelligence coordinator at Instituto Centro de Vida (ICV), a Cuiaba-based sustainability nonprofit whose work has been focused on the Pantanal fires. “It’s an impact that is impossible to fully understand yet – but we know it has disrupted the equilibrium in a profound way.” Satellite data show huge areas of tree cover loss in Pantanal Matogrossense National Park following the latest spate of wide-ranging, out-of-control wildfires. Pantanal Matogrossense National Park encompasses some 135,000 hectares across the municipality of Pocone in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso. The area has been under federal protection for nearly four decades, with entry into the park strictly restricted in a bid to shield its rich ecological diversity. The park is a part of the Pantanal region, the world’s largest tropical wetland, sprawling nearly 210,000 square kilometers (81,000 square miles) across Brazil,…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer