Leonardo DiCaprio and a team of conservationists are putting up a lot of dough "to save one of the most irreplaceable places on the planet." The actor on Tuesday announced a $43 million pledge to "rewild" the Galapagos Islands, including by restoring habitats and reintroducing locally extinct species. DiCaprio said wildlife veterinarian and island restoration specialist Paula Castano and "other environmental heroes in Ecuador" were working to protect the environment and its wildlife. They'll now have help from Re:wild, a conservation group founded by DiCaprio and scientists, which will work with the Galapagos National Park Directorate, Island Conservation, and local communities "to rewild the Galapagos Islands and beyond at a scale never before attempted," according to a press release.
The funds will help reintroduce 13 locally extinct species to Floreana Island, including the Floreana mockingbird, per the Guardian. Experts will also work to prevent the extinction of the pink iguana, including through a captive breeding program, and to protect the environment from the impacts of ecotourism. "We have degraded three-quarters of the wild places" and "more than half of Earth’s remaining wild areas could disappear in the next few decades if we don’t decisively act," says DiCaprio, per Newsweek. "Time is running out for so many species, especially on islands where their small populations are vulnerable and threatened," adds Castano. She notes the removal of invasive rodents from Pinzon Island in 2012 resulted in the hatching of new giant tortoises. But "we need catalytic investments like the one announced today to replicate our successes." (Read more uplifting news stories.)