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Leonardo DiCaprio helps launch massive ‘Rewild’ operation in Galapagos

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio is contributing to a massive $ 43 million initiative to “rewild” the ailing Galapagos Islands, which he describes as “one of the most irreplaceable places” on the planet.

The money will fund major projects over the next 10 years, including efforts to restore Floreana Island, home to 54 endangered species, and reintroduce 13 locally extinct species. One of them is the mockingbird Floreana, the first mockingbird described by Charles Darwin.

The funds will also help establish captive breeding operations to save endangered species like the pink iguana, fight invasive species like rats and goats, stop illegal fishing, fight pollution of oceans and repair the damage caused by unsustainable ecotourism.

The magnificent Galapagos, a collection of Ecuadorian volcanic islands on either side of the equator in the Pacific Ocean, is home to an incredibly diverse population of plant and animal species, many of which are not found anywhere else on the planet. It was visited by Darwin in 1835 and helped inspire his theory of evolution.

Like everywhere on the globe, the archipelago is under siege.

“All over the world, nature is in decline,” DiCaprio said in a statement last month.

“We have degraded three quarters of wild places and pushed more than a million species to the brink of extinction. More than half of Earth’s remaining wilderness could disappear over the next few decades if we don’t act decisively, ”he added.

The “local environmental heroes the planet needs 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.

The effort will involve Re: wild, an organization founded this year by conservation scientists and DiCaprio, the Galapagos National Park Branch, Island Conservation, a nonprofit from Santa Cruz, Calif., Local communities and several other supporting organizations and ministries. it will focus on the Galapagos Islands, but will also include all the Pacific archipelagos of Latin America.

“Although islands make up only 5% of the planet’s land mass, they are home to most of the biodiversity we have in the world,” said Paula Castaño, island conservation specialist and fire veterinarian. forest. “Seize this opportunity to bring nature back to life, restore these islands… the impact we can have here is greater than anywhere else.”

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