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Chile wildfires damage unique flora, fauna

Massive wildfires raging in drought-stricken southern Chile have wiped out hundreds of plant species, and are now threatening animal life and a national park as well, officials warned Saturday.



Santiago: Massive wildfires raging in drought-stricken southern Chile have wiped out hundreds of plant species, and are now threatening animal life and a national park as well, officials warned Saturday.

"We are witnessing a massive environmental catastrophe" in southern Chile, Accion Ecologica chief Luis Mariano Rendon told AFP from Mexico.

"There have been whole species lost, such as the Araucaria araucana (monkey puzzle tree). They are trees that take hundreds of years to reach maturity. So this is a practically irreparable loss for current generations."

The trees, a distant relative of better known pine, are considered sacred by indigenous Mapuche people.

And Chile itself has declared them part of its unique national natural heritage.

Fires in the country`s south have ravaged more than 3,700 hectares (9,100 acres) of forest, and have been contained but not put out entirely, firefighters said.

There are still 25 active fires, potentially threatening Conguillio National Park.

From Zee News

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