A wildfire has destroyed almost 10,000 acres (4,000 hectares) of Estancia la Esperanza reserve in Argentinian Patagonia.
A fire front of 12km consumed approximately 30,000 hectares (74,131 acres) of vegetation across six properties, including 4,000 of the 6,700 hectares (16,556 acres) which makes up the Estancia la Esperanza reserve.
With the strong winds which come from the Atlantic coast, fires which started at a property 20km away went out of control and entered the wildlife refuge.
WLT’s partner Fundación Patagonia Natural (FPN) have said it is hard to know how serious the impact has been (and will be) on the wildlife at this stage, but as the fire burned at a very high temperature, all the vegetation has gone with only a few burnt stumps remaining and even stones have blackened from the heat.
Charlotte Beckham, Conservation Programmes Coordinator at WLT, says “Thankfully the fire didn’t reach the buildings, although it came very close. FPN has seen Guanaco huddling near the buildings where there is still vegetation. We will have to wait to see the full extent of the fire’s impact on local wildlife.”
Long term effects
The fire has left the landscape extremely dry, and as top soil is beginning to erode the damage will be long lasting. As the rains are not expected until June, it will be a while before the ecosystem can begin the recovery process.
One of FPN’s most urgent concerns is the damage to the fences, which has left the area open to thieves. Some of the surrounding estancias have already had buildings damaged and property stolen. As most of the neighbouring estancias are abandoned responsibility falls to FPN to now fix the fences and secure the reserve.
The reserve and 17 years of work to restore this habitat and its wildlife are in danger of returning to their previous state if FPN are not able to re-build the boundaries which keep livestock out, allowing the ecosystem to recover. Please donate below to support FPN to restore the reserve boundaries.