The Gran Chaco is South America's second largest wilderness after the Amazon rainforest. This enormous swath of dry forest and scrubland, where every plant or tree bears thorns, is South America's second largest wilderness after the Amazon rainforest, stretching from Brazil, to Bolivia, to Paraguay. Despite its aridity, the Chaco is home to more than 3,400 plant species, 500 species of birds and 150 mammal species including jaguars, pumas, peccaries, giant anteaters and even eight different types of armadillo ranging in size from 300g to 30kg.
The South American Gran Chaco is a mosaic of environments that encompasses high levels of biodiversity and the largest forested area on the continent after the Amazon. Its 106,600,000 Ha span four different countries: Argentina (62.19%), Paraguay (25.43%), Bolivia (11.61%) and Brazil (0.77%).
The Gran Chaco is threatened on all sides: Mennonite cattle ranchers have bought up large tracts in Paraguay and Brazilian farmers looking for cheap land for their soy crops have flooded across the border. The area in Bolivia is maybe the best preserved, but even its habitats have been disrupted by a gas pipeline, while clandestine plantations of coca encroached 34,000 square kilometers of forest.