Weekly Current Affairs

Amazon forest fire threatens natives, wildlife in Peru [Biodiversity]

  • An enormous fire is destroying vast stretches of the Amazon rainforest in Peru, threatening natives and wildlife.
  • The fire broke out in an indigenous community called Pitsiquia, in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon.
  • It has since destroyed more than 19,000 hectares (47,000 acres) of forest - an area more than three times the size of Manhattan - and another 200 hectares of farmland in the Junin region.
  • Air pollution caused by smoke is causing eye problems for inhabitants.
  • The fire is in an extremely remote region known as VRAEM, an acronym for the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro river valleys.
  • The area is known for its isolation, dense rainforest and tropical crops - coffee, cocoa and the country’s largest tracts of coca, the raw ingredient for cocaine.
  • The fire could wreak chaos on a major indigenous reserve, home to native communities that have limited contact with the outside world, and spread to the Otishi National Park nearby.
  • Focus of the fire, the most dangerous part, has entered Ashaninka reserve. The reserve is home to some 5,000 people in 10 communities.
  • A drought had left the region vulnerable. The fire then broke out when local farmers were burning a pasture to clear it for planting.
  • Newly launched Peruvian satellite, PeruSAT-1, was being used to monitor the fire and assess the damage.