A ghastly orange grin extends across the treetops in Guarayos, Bolivia, marking a cruel turn of fate for rescued wildlife. On the ground, the air is too smoky to breathe, and hot enough to scorch. Fire is eating its way through one of the world’s great efforts on behalf of wild animals rescued from illegal trafficking, poaching, and habitat destruction. The Ambue Ari Sanctuary of Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi (CIWY) is under severe fire threat. It is one of three CIWY-run sanctuaries caring for a total of over 500 rescued animals across 39 species.
Because of the pandemic, this year the sancutary does not have even half volunteer staff normally available to help with the recurring wildfires—restrictions have all but stopped the entry of new people to the area. Beyond the animals the center houses and cares for, there are thousands of other animals that have found refuge in the sanctuary that are also threatened, burned, and displaced.