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It shelters 1,300 bird species, 3,000 types of fish and 40,000 species of plants.

Did you know that the Amazon is home to all of this and more? That’s right! The Amazon has a uniquely rich and diverse ecosystem.

Some of the rainforest’s most well-known residents are poison dart frogs, jaguars, and electric eels. One of the most intimidating may well be the Pirarucu, a fish that has teeth on the roof of its mouth and its tongue and can grow to be nearly 10 feet long!

So with all of the news about the rainforest fires, you may be wondering what happens to all of the species that call the Amazon home. Unfortunately, there are both short-term and long-term consequences for the Amazon’s residents.

Fact Box:

• The Amazon is located in South America and is shared by nine countries

• The Amazon River is nearly 4,000 miles long

• The rainforest is home to an incredible 2.5 million insects

• The Amazon is home to the world’s largest remaining tropical rainforest

• 10 percent of Earth’s animal species live in the Amazon

Some animals are better equipped than others to deal with emergencies like wildfires. Large animals who can move quickly, like jaguars, are more likely to be able to escape the blaze than slower, smaller critters like sloths and lizards. Fire can also alter water’s chemistry and may make some of the smaller rivers and creeks unlivable for the near future.

As for the long-term consequences, some experts worry that these could be even worse. The Amazon canopy, which is the top branches and leaves of the trees, is so thick that sunlight can barely reach the ground and the rainforest floor is in permanent darkness. However, the fire breaks up the canopy and allows light in. Even after the fires are done burning, this will affect the rainforest because it changes the whole ecosystem and can have effects on the entire food chain.

There is one other aspect of the rainforest’s residents that are likely to be affected: indigenous tribes. There are an estimated 400-500 indigenous Amerindian tribes who live in the Amazon, and it’s believed that about 50 of these tribes have never been contacted by the outside world. These people rely on the rainforest to survive and may be affected as well.

September 2019