The fires were still several miles away, but Talía Zamboni and her colleagues wanted to work fast. Early in the morning on Feb. 23, they traveled to San Alonso Island in Argentina’s Iberá National Park, where several giant river otters were being housed in a large enclosure, awaiting their release into the wild. But today wasn’t the day they’d be let loose. When the otters turned up at their usual spot for food, Zamboni and her colleagues ushered them into wooden boxes and drove them to another enclosure where they’d be safe.

“They were very nervous and vocalizing a lot,” Zamboni, the conservation coordinator for Rewilding Argentina, told Mongabay. “But we hope that when they are reunited as a family, they will calm down and be less stressed.”

Fires began to burn in Iberá National Park last month, threatening a considerable portion of the 158,000-hectare (390,000-acre) region of protected marshlands, grasslands and forests in the central Corrientes province of northeast Argentina. Nearly 60% of the park has now been burned, and about 10% of the entire province, according to Sebastián Di Martino, the conservation director at Rewilding Argentina.

Since Jan. 3, there have also been 1,629 hotspot alerts from NASA’s VIIRS satellite imaging system, which is considered “unusually high” when compared to historical data […]

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