Leonardo DiCaprio announced that Re: wild, the environmental charity he co-founded in 2021 together with a group of well-known nature conservation scientists, will donate 43 million dollars (about 35 million euros) to carry out a series of vast biodiversity conservation operations in the Galapagos Islands. Not only Re: wild takes part in the operations in question, but also the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park, the NGO Island Conservation and some local communities, with the support of various philanthropic and environmental organizations. The aim is precisely to re-naturalize the Galapagos (a volcanic archipelago of the Pacific Ocean belonging politically to Ecuador) and the other archipelagos of Latin America in the Pacific.
The 43 million dollars among other things will be used to restore the island of Floreana, which is home to 54 endangered species, and to reintroduce 13 locally extinct species, such as Floreana’s Mime (Mimus trifasciatus, a brown bird that Charles Darwin spotted when he visited the Galapagos in 1835 and which disappeared from the island fifty years later). The money will also be used to finance a captive breeding program and other activities to prevent the extinction of the pink iguana and strengthen measures to protect the marine resources of the Galapagos from the human impact of ecotourism. (read on after the links and the photo)
Iguana in the Galapagos National Park (AFP photo)
The disappearance of the wilderness
The actor announced his commitment to donate the 43 million on his social media. There he posted a video accompanied by a long caption in which he tells how he decided to work for this cause after meeting during a trip to the Galapagos Paula A. Castaño, Island Conservation scientist. “Wilderness is in decline all over the world. We have degraded three quarters of the wilderness and brought over a million species to the brink of extinction. More than half of the Earth’s remaining wildernesses could disappear in the next few decades if we don’t act decisively, ”DiCaprio wrote. “The environmental heroes the planet needs are already here. Now we must all take up the challenge and join them ».
The intervention of the scientist
In a series of stories posted on DiCaprio’s account Castaño then explained the interventions the archipelago needs. “Time is running out for several species, especially on the islands, where their small populations are vulnerable and threatened. We need catalytic investments like this to replicate our successes in the Galapagos and elsewhere, ”said Castaño, who has been working as a biodiversity restoration specialist on the islands for eight years. “Up to 97% of the land area of the Galapagos falls under the status of a national park. We are not trying to remove humans, but to work together to rebuild these ecosystems and also support the community. They want to be able to continue thrive together with nature“.
The collapse of Darwin’s arch
The day after DiCaprio’s announcement, May 19, due to natural erosion, the Darwin Arch collapsed, a rock formation located in the northern part of the Galapagos which takes its name from the British biologist (who two centuries ago in the archipelago studied several species to describe his theory of evolution). The decision to donate the $ 43 million therefore predates the disaster. DiCaprio, who has been committed to global environmental issues for years, has donated over time over 100 million dollars (€ 82 million) to numerous programs and projects. In 2014, then UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appointed the United Nations Climate Messenger of Peace actor. And in 2019 about Greta Thunberg, a Swedish activist against climate change, the actor wrote on his social networks, where he posted a photo of him with the girl: “Greta Thunberg has become a leader of our time. History will judge us for what we must guarantee for future generations. I hope that Greta’s message is a wake-up call for world leaders and that it makes it clear that the time for not acting is over ”.