Conservation group: Bolivia fires ravaged big cat habitat

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A conservation group says one of Latin America's key habitats for jaguars suffered extensive devastation during fires in Bolivia.

The South America director for the New York-based Panthera group said Wednesday that a "focal point" of burning has been around San Ignacio de Velasco, where a number of wild cat species live.

Esteban Payán says any jaguars, pumas and other wild cats that survived would be struggling because deer and other prey died in the fires. He spoke by telephone from Bolivia after traveling there to assess the situation.

The area is in the Santa Cruz region, where many fires got out of control after being intentionally set during an expansion of farming and ranching. It is near the border with Brazil, where fires also ravaged parts of the Amazon.