Endangered “Leo” Tree May Live Another Generation Thanks To Leonardo DiCaprio

Many plant and animal species are going extinct as a result of deforestation, pollution, and climate change.

Scientists around the world have been ringing the alarm bells surrounding conservation for decades, but governments and companies continue to make poor decisions regarding the environment.

Thankfully, one forest that hosts numerous endangered species may get to live years longer thanks to the conservation efforts of Leonardo DiCaprio.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

According to Variety, the Cameroon government approved plans in July 2020 to allow loggers to deforest one-third of its 500,000-acre Ebo Forest, much to the dismay of conservationists around the globe.

But just weeks after the approval passed, it was rescinded – and Leonardo DiCaprio is partially to thank.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Immediately after the approval was passed, people began speaking out and protesting the deforestation of such a critical forest. DiCaprio, himself, posted about the issue on Instagram, tagging Cameroon’s president and writing:

“Please help #SaveEboForest by reconsidering your Government’s decree to move forward with plans to log the magnificent Ebo Forest.”

He went on to say how the logging would “destroy the home of the world’s only Chimpanzees that both forage for termites using stick tools and crack nuts using stone and wood tools, along with a small population of gorillas that may be a new subspecies, and one of only two remaining populations of Preuss’s Red Colobus, a Critically Endangered monkey.”

He also talked about how Ebo Forest makes up one half of a “Key Biodiversity Area, making it a site of global importance to the planet’s overall health and the persistence of biodiversity.”

Of course, DiCaprio isn’t responsible for the reversal of the decision on his own, but he was a key player in raising awareness of the issue.

In fact, scientists at the UK’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, credit his efforts for playing a significant role in saving the forest.

Photo: flickr/Forest Service, USDA

As a token of their gratitude, they’ve named a newly discovered critically endangered tree species after the actor! The new species, the Uvariopsis dicaprio, is a tropical evergreen with yellow flowers that bloom directly from the trunk. Researchers published information about the new species in an academic paper.

Speaking with New Scientist, Kew taxonomist Martin Cheek said, “This is a plant which, for a botanist, just jumps out at you. It’s so spectacular.”

According to the academic paper, the species is also critically endangered. There are only four dozen mature Leo trees in the Ebo Forest, the tree’s only known habitat.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Logging such a huge portion of the forest would’ve likely eliminated the Leo tree from the world, and could’ve killed off the other many endangered species that call the forest home, such as the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees, Goliath frogs, forest elephants, and grey parrots.

The government could allow the forest to be destroyed at any moment, but conservationists are continuing to educate the public and fight against such conservation disasters. The battle is long from over, but this is a huge win!

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