Actor Leonardo DiCaprio
is assisting in a $43 million initiative to “rewild
” the endangered Galapagos Islands
, which he describes as “one of the most irreplaceable” spots on the planet.
The funds will be used to fund major projects over the next ten years, such as efforts to restore Floreana Island, which is home to 54 threatened species, and reintroduce 13 locally extinct species, one of which is the Floreana mockingbird, which was described by Charles Darwin as the first mockingbird.
Funds will also be used to establish captive breeding operations in order to save endangered species such as the pink
iguana, to combat invasive species such as rats and goats, to stop illegal fishing, to combat ocean pollution, and to repair the damage caused by unsustainable ecotourism.
The stunning Galapagos Islands, a collection of Ecuadoran volcanic islands on either side of the equator in the Pacific Ocean
, are home to an incredibly diverse population of plant and animal species, many of which are found nowhere else on the planet; Darwin visited in 1835 and it helped inspire his theory of evolution.
The archipelago is under attack
, just like the rest of the world.
“The wild is declining all over the world,” DiCaprio said last month in a statement.
“We have degraded three-quarters of the wild places and pushed over a 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 do not act decisively,” he added.
Local “environmental heroes
that the planet requires are already here; now we must all rise to the challenge and join them,” urged DiCaprio, who has a long history of advocating for environmental causes.
More than half of the world's remaining wild areas could be lost in the next few decades if we don't take decisive action. That's why I'm excited to launch @Rewild today - to help protect what's still wild and restore what's not. pic.twitter.com/Sxmrx2uhwd — Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) May 17, 2021
The effort will include Re:wild, a conservation
organization founded this year by conservation scientists and DiCaprio, the Galápagos National Park Directorate, Island Conservation, a nonprofit based in Santa Cruz, California
, local communities, and several other supporting organizations and government departments. It will focus on the Galapagos Islands, but will also include all Latin American Pacific archipelagos.
“Although islands account for only 5% of the earth’s land mass, they contain the majority of the world’s biodiversity,” said Paula Castao, an Island Conservation specialist and wildfire
veterinarian. “Taking this opportunity to re-wild, restore these islands... the impact that we can have here is greater than anywhere else.”