Nearly every day for the past 35 days, biologist Raúl Ernesto Rojas and a group of volunteers have been out looking for animals on the edges of the flames roaring around Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Mostly, they find only charred bodies or bones. For any unseen survivors, they leave corn and fresh water cradled in palm husks.
“We stopped counting because there were too many,” Rojas says of the dead.
The toll the blazes are taking on the Amazon’s wildlife may never be known. Still, eyewitness accounts illustrate the consequences for individual animals—and the tremendous challenges facing the people trying to help.
“We found a lot of skeletons,” says Rojas, who works for the Santa Cruz government. The animals “were trying to run against