Leonardo DiCaprio pledges $43 million to Galapagos Islands conservation

The Hollywood star's donation comes as the towering Darwin's Arch collapses into the Pacific Ocean

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Leonardo DiCaprio has pledged $43 million to conservation in the Galapagos Islands.

The Hollywood actor and environmentalist announced that his conservation charity Re:wild will focus on restoring endangered wildlife populations in the Galapagos Islands, an Ecuadorian volcanic archipelago.

The islands, which lie about 950 kilometres west of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean, are known as one of the world's most biodiverse destinations but have been under threat from climate change and tourism.

Leonardo DiCaprio has pledged $43 million to support conservation in the Galapagos Islands. Unsplash

Re:wild says that, to make changes, "we don't need to reinvent the planet, we just need to rewild it".

The hefty donation will go towards bringing back several species of animals, including pink iguanas, Floreana mockingbirds and giant tortoises, from the verge of extinction.

It will also help to restore the waters surrounding the Galapagos Islands and to ensure the region's native people thrive alongside the wildlife.

Leonardo DiCaprio's Re:wild conservation charity aims to bring pink iguanas, giant tortoises and Floreana mockingbirds back from the brink of extinction. Courtesy Re:wild

"The wild is in decline. We have degraded three-quarters of all wild places and pushed more than one million species to the brink of extinction," wrote the Titanic actor on Instagram.

"More than half of Earth's remaining wild areas could disappear in the next few decades if we don't decisively act. This is why, today, I am honoured to support the launch of @Rewild – to protect what's still wild and help restore the rest," he said.

Wildlife vet takes over DiCaprio's Instagram

DiCaprio's Instagram account was later taken over by Paula A Castano, a wildlife veterinarian and island restoration specialist with Island Conservation, who lives in the Galapagos Islands.

Castano is leading the efforts to reintroduce a number of endangered species back to their wild homes, in collaboration with the Galapagos National Park, local communities and other partners.

"Time is running out for so many species, especially on islands where their small populations are vulnerable and threatened. Galapagos’s pink iguanas, Floreana mockingbirds and other wildlife may soon be lost forever without action. We know how to prevent these extinctions and restore functional and thriving ecosystems – we have done it – but we need to replicate these successes, innovate and go to scale,” Castano said in a media statement.

Her takeover of The Wolf of Wall Street actor's Stories on Instagram remains visible on DiCaprio's highlights on the social media platform.

Famous Galapagos landmark collapses

Handout photo released by the Ecuadorean Ministry of Environment of the Darwin Arch after it collapsed near Darwin Island, Galapagos, Ecuador, on May 17, 2021. The famous rock formation off the Galapagos Islands known as Darwin's Arch has collapsed due to "natural erosion," the Ecuadoran Ministry of Environment said Monday. 
 - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT AFP PHOTO / ECUADOR'S ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY / HECTOR BARRERA - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS -DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
 / AFP / Ecuador's Ministry of Environment / Ecuador's Ministry of Environment / Hector BARRERA / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT AFP PHOTO / ECUADOR'S ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY / HECTOR BARRERA - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS -DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

DiCaprio's pledge of support came just one day before the collapse of Darwin's Arch, a famed natural rock formation in the Galapagos Islands.

Quote
The wild is in decline. We have degraded three quarters of all wild places and pushed more than one million species to the brink of extinction

Photographs posted on social media by Ecuador's Ministry of Evnironment on Tuesday showed rubble from the curvature of the arch in the ocean. The two supporting columns remain standing.

Named after British naturalist Charles Darwin, the arch is located at the most northern point of the Galapagos Islands. It has been popular with divers, photographers and cruise ship tourists for many years, although tourists are not allowed to set foot on the arch or on the adjacent Darwin's Island.

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