[May 18, 2021: Jenna Romaine]
Leonardo DiCaprio has pledged $43 million toward a mass conservation effort to rewild the Galápagos Islands.
The initiative is being undertaken in coordination with Re:wild — founded this year by longtime climate activist DiCaprio and a group of conservation scientists — the Galápagos National Park Directorate, Island Conservation, and others.
Part of Ecuador, the 19 islands located in the Pacific Ocean are home to an abundance of captivating wildlife, such as great white sharks, the blue-footed booby and the giant tortoise. Ninety-seven percent of the land is a designated national park, and 50,000 square miles of the surrounding ocean is protected by the Galápagos Marine Reserve.
“When I travelled to the Galápagos Islands, I met with Paula Castaño and other environmental heroes in Ecuador working day in and day out to save one of the most irreplaceable places on the planet,” DiCaprio said. “Around the world, the wild is declining. We have degraded three-quarters of the wild places and pushed more than 1 million species to the brink of extinction. More than half of Earth’s remaining wild areas could disappear in the next few decades if we don’t decisively act.”
DiCaprio’s pledge will go toward restoring Floreana Island, which houses 54 threatened species, as well as reintroducing 13 species that had gone extinct in the area. Among those is the Floreana mockingbird, which is the first mockingbird Charles Darwin reported.
The pledge will also fund a captive breeding initiative for the pink iguana, as well as attempt to conserve and protect Galápagos marine life from the effects of ecotourism.
Castaño will be taking over DiCaprio's Instagram and Twitter accounts to highlight the dangers facing the Galápagos Islands and how his large audience can help.
“Up to 97% of the land area of the Galápagos Islands comes under national park status. We are not trying to remove humans from the picture,” Castaño said. “We are trying to all work together to rewild these ecosystems, and support the community as well. They want to be able to continue to thrive together with nature.”
“The environmental heroes that the planet needs are already here,” DiCaprio said. “Now we all must rise to the challenge and join them.”
Like these kind of feel good stories? Get the Brighter Side of News' newsletter.