The home of Andean foxes, vizcachas and a variety of wild birds was reduced to ashes in the municipality of Pocona, located more than two hours from the city of Cochabamba. The fire consumed more than 50 thousand pine trees, 20 thousand eucalyptus trees and extensive forests of kewiñas, alders and native vegetation, the habitat of a varied fauna, according to the testimonies of local and community authorities.
The fire started last Thursday and put residents of four communities on edge, because it surrounded several homes and strawberry and potato crops, said the deputy mayor of Monte Punku, the town where the environmental disaster occurred, Noé Mamani.
Although the community members with the support of soldiers managed to prevent the fire from entering the populated area after four days of fighting in the mountains, there are still reports of several active heat sources that continue to devastate the flora and fauna of the southern cone, according to this media outlet.
Following the trail of dense smoke, Los Tiempos verified that the fire affected a large area and in some sectors even burned the base of power poles.
Mamani said that the flames reached five meters in height and the strong afternoon winds accelerated their spread. This situation alarmed the guests of a town wedding, who came to help with the mitigation work over the weekend.
The deputy mayor reported that the fire started in the community of Jurinas, belonging to the Chiuchi sub-central of the Monte Punku regional. Although the following day (Friday) it was reported that the fire was under control, the wind reactivated it, forcing even the community members of Incallajta, Phullu Wasi, among others, to mobilize to put it out.
The burning was caused by the carelessness of an elderly woman, who, together with her family, gave all her help to feed and support the residents who worked intensely in order to prevent further damage, according to the community members.
“Pines of different varieties and sizes have been burned; the affectation to forest species is great, the fire has tortured us. With the crisis that the municipality is going through, we did not know what to do,” the official pointed out.
He pointed out that the local people fought against the fire with motorized pumps, with green branches and whatever object they found to stop the advance of the fire, while several wild animals, such as two Andean foxes, fled in terror leaving their home behind.
But why is it so important to preserve Andean foxes and their habitat?
The conservation of this wild animal is important, since it is responsible for the biological control of rodents and other species that are harmful to humans, explained biologist José Balderrama.
The expert said that the habitat of the Andean fox is generally the valleys and mountains, where it feeds on insects and small vertebrates.
“It is considered omnivorous, it is a species that has become accustomed to coexisting with humans. In the food chain they are at the top because they are responsible for the biological control of rodents. Although it is not in extinction, let’s say that they tend to decrease because the populations do not like their presence and tend to kill them or scare them away, ”he indicated.
Balderrama stressed that the fox can adapt to live in environments with thickets, bushes and forests that are not tall, because this type of geography allows them to more easily catch their prey.
He mentioned that when people enter their territory to raise chickens, the fox tends to feel attracted, but when they scare it away it does not return, which is why it is not classified as a dangerous species.
He added that especially in rural communities he is popularly known as “el atuq or Antonio.”
95% of fires are caused
The head of the Risk Management Unit (UGR) of the Government, Fernando Fernández, pointed out that 95 percent of forest fires are caused by people who practice uncontrolled chaqueos. It was reported that so far this year 62 fires have affected 3,500 hectares.
However, these figures could increase due to the fact that the department is in a critical time for fires, since each day up to three magnitude burns were dealt with in a single day, according to the information provided by groups of volunteers.
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Fire devastates habitat of Andean fox and other species in Pocona
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