«I witnessed everything that used to exist here because I was born and raised here. There will be children who no longer recognize what a fish is because no fish can be found. Not any. We used to have water here, lots of water, but not anymore. We had a bit of water last year, but now you can see how dry everything is, much drier. Nowadays, you don’t see anybody in the river, not even the fish. There’s no place to go fishing. The river is almost empty.» – Benedito Alves da Silva – Fisherman from Barão de Melgaço, Mato Grosso
Out of all the biomes in the country, this reduction has been more pronounced in the Pantanal, where there has been a 71% reduction of its surface water during seasonal floodings since 1991.
“There’s no more water in the places where the fish used to go to reproduce when the floods came. Everything dried up. The lakes where they went to reproduce are dry, and today, where there used to be water, there’s now only sand. It hurts both the fish and us, because we need them. If there’s no flooding, there are no fish.” -Theylon Xávier da Silva – Fisherman and ecotourism guide from Porto Jôfre, Mato Grosso-
“Life for the swamp farmer is dramatically changed. Harvesting any plant or fruit is a difficult task because we no longer have rain the way we used to have it. This drought has changed everything, and cycles haven’t been the same. If you want to harvest an onion or a tomato, you must soak the plant because there’s no rain. Too much has changed in the swamp farmer’s lifestyle. It’s terrible the way cattle suffer. All animals suffer, and so do we. We’re doing fine down here, but the water has run out heading towards the Paiaguás. Countryside and greenwood, as seen here, can no longer be found there. It’s all too dry.» -Aleixo Marques da Silva – Cowboy from Corumbá, Mato Grosso do Sul-
“If we, the swamp farmers, don’t organize ourselves to protect our forests, then everything is over. Trying to put out fires day and night, again and again, is too much to bear. It saddens us to speak about it for everything we went through last year with the fires. It wasn’t easy at all. Many animals died. We had a huge loss, but we’re recovering. We went up the river two or three months ago and hardly spotted any jaguars. We sometimes see three or four of them now. It fills us with joy because we know that animals are coming back. That’s a sign that all the effort we put into trying to control the fires and protect their habitat paid off because they’re now returning.» -Theylon Xávier da Silva – Fisherman and ecotourism guide from Porto Jôfre, Mato Grosso-