Born and raised on the banks of the CuiabÃ¡ River in the Pantanal, Benedito Alves da Silva, 79, was forced to abandon his home for the first time in his life. It was 10:39 am when he was rescued by a boat from Sesc Pantanal. A large column of smoke approached the thatched roof clay house that he had built.
"It never happened like this year," said da Silva, known as Dito Verde, as he left the house. He left a pot on the woodstove with three piranhas caught at dawn. "But he won't burn the house, that's it, he won't, God is great."
Dito Verde is the only resident of the Private Reserve of Natural Heritage (RPPN) Sesc Pantanal, the largest privately protected area in the country. Retired, the Pantaneiro worked on farms in the region, had 13 children, but today he lives only in the company of two trough violas, the most traditional instrument in the Pantanal.
For him, the region has been changing a lot in recent years. "At that time, every year, there was great water [seasonal flood]. Now it's over. There was no water [this year], I'm telling you."
The fire has already burned about a third of the RPPN's 108,000 hectares. In the entire Pantanal of Mato Grosso, 185 thousand hectares have already been lost, amid the greatest drought in recent years.
Translated by Kiratiana Freelon