Millions of animals in harm’s way as factory farming drives destructive fires in Brazil
World Animal Protection is working with local organizations to help animals in need.
Seeing the impact of these fires on the environment and wildlife is devastating. We have seen baby deer with their legs burned, animals such as monkeys and jaguars completely carbonized, and others with their paws burnt, completely dehydrated or starving. We can no longer ignore the link between factory farming and the irresponsible behaviour of the big companies driving this devastation.
World Animal Protection is urgently intervening to help wild animals suffering from devastating fires consuming their habitat in Brazil’s biodiversity hotspots. Land is being cleared and set on fire at record levels to grow crops for a lucrative trade to feed farmed animals on cruel factory farms worldwide.
According to data from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) from January to August this year alone, Brazil has registered almost 90,000 fires in the six ecosystems that make up the country.
Millions of wild animals will be killed or injured by the fires. With Brazil’s wildlife on the frontline of this crisis, World Animal Protection is partnering with Instituto Homem Pantaneiro (IHP) and Pantanal/MS Technical Animal Rescue Group (GRETAP) to help animals injured and at risk in the Pantanal and Cerrado ecosystems. Our focus is to help the wild animals at risk by enabling escape routes as well as providing water and nutrition. Where absolutely necessary, animals will be captured, transported and treated before being released back into the wild where possible.
The Cerrado ecosystem contains 5% of the world’s species and is also a major hot spot for soy crop expansion for farmed animal feed. As demand for meat increases around the world, devastating land clearance in the region worsens. Most soy planted worldwide is destined to feed animals experiencing unthinkable suffering on cruel factory farms.
This is a global problem with the clearance of land to grow crops to feed farmed animals threatening some of the world’s most iconic and vulnerable places, including the Cerrado, Pantanal, Amazon, Congo, Mekong, and Yangtze basins. Crops are grown in large monocultures meaning complete habitat destruction from slash and burn clearance. Vast amounts of pesticides and fertilizers are needed, polluting river courses and poisoning wildlife.
World Animal Protection is calling for no new factory farms to be built (a moratorium on factory farming) to tackle the root cause of these fires and to protect millions of wild animals that are suffering where the animal-feed industry is responsible.
Factory farming companies must track the origin of animal feed purchased and guarantee habitat is not destroyed. They must also limit animal production to smaller numbers of farmed animals in high welfare, sustainable conditions with feed sourced locally and sustainably.
Joao Almeida, Executive Director of World Animal Protection Brazil said:
“Seeing the impact of these fires on the environment and wildlife is devastating. We have seen baby deer with their legs burned, animals such as monkeys and jaguars completely carbonized, and others with their paws burnt, completely dehydrated or starving. We can no longer ignore the link between factory farming and the irresponsible behaviour of the big companies driving this devastation.
“The Brazilian forests acts as the lungs of the world. The Cerrado is considered a savannah ecosystem with some of the greatest biodiversity in the world, and the Pantanal is the World’s largest tropical wetland and a World Natural Heritage Site. If the environment suffers, then so do the animals — often the forgotten victims in disasters. For as long as wild animals continue to lose their homes, we will respond to save and protect them.”
Jacqueline Mills, Head of Campaign, Animals in Farming, World Animal Protection said:
“Billions of animals suffer in cruel factory farms, often kept in cramped, overcrowded and barren environments. But they are not the only victims – millions of wild animals are also paying the price, as their natural habitat is engulfed in flames and burnt to the ground so that soy plantations can be grown to feed farmed animals.
“We need to prevent new factory farms being built. The food industry needs to embrace a humane and sustainable future. We need animals living good lives in genuinely high welfare systems, and widespread take up of plant-based diets in countries with high levels of meat consumption.”
Letícia Larcher, biologist and a Technical Coordinator at Instituto Homem Pantaneiro (IHP) said:
“Last year, 90% of the total area that we work in, to conserve went up in flames, and with that, it is estimated that over 17 million animals died. Our mission is to preserve the Pantanal, so we need strategies put in place to preserve this ecosystem and protect the animals that call this their home. The support of World Animal Protection is essential to keep animals safe – now and for the future.”
Notes to editors
About the operation: The groups will work in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, which includes areas of Pantanal and Cerrado biomes, focusing in on the Serra do Amolar Pantanal. Preferably wild animals will be helped to escape or cope with the situation on site. But where necessary, small wild animals such as birds, reptiles and small mammals will be transported to the CAVET (Veterinary Attention Centre) in Serra de Amolar region, while larger animals, such as tapirs and jaguars, will be transported to the CRAS (Wild Animal Rehabilitation Center) for specialist treatment, located in Campo Grande.
Last year, just in the Pantanal an estimated 65 million animals were affected, and the number could be higher if these cruel practices related to factory farming continues.
Most of Brazil’s forest fires are caused by man-made activities clearing land to cultivate or use the pasture for livestock. Many of the fires in 2020 were a product of “slash and burn” practices by local farms, to produce soy for animal feed in the cruel factory farming industry and used by global corporate traders and brands.