In the first eight months of 2020, more than 12% of the Pantanal territory was devastated by fires, according to INPE estimates. With significant rain forecast only in October, the biome may suffer the worst devastation in 15 years. It is not yet possible to assess how long it will take to regenerate.
To show the disaster, photo-reporter Lalo de Almeida traveled the Estrada Transpantaneira, which cuts through southern Mato Grosso, from Poconé to Porto Jofre. With him, his wife and eldest daughter.
The highway, with 147 km of dirt, is a park road. Now, however, the main landscape is fire. With 30 years of photography, the Pantanal fire is the greatest natural destruction he has ever seen. "Where you look, everything is burning." The landscapes, he says, are bleak.
The animals' desperation to survive the fires was what most shocked them. On trips to the biome, he saw monkeys, alligators, and deer suffer. "When you see a dying animal, you identify yourself as a person."
Lalo's lenses recorded the fire in the area for the first time in mid-August for a Folha report. "When we got there, it was more larger than we imagined." The destruction was so great that he says he left there with a feeling of "mission not accomplished." After the second visit, he continues to think the same. "I still have the feeling that there is more to show."
Translated by Kiratiana Freelon