According to the World Wildlife Fund’s 2016 Living Planet Report, global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles declined by 58 percent between 1970 and 2012. There are now 41,415 species on the IUCN Red List, and 16,306 of them are endangered species threatened with extinction. This is up from 16,118 last year.
Wildlife are voiceless victims, caught in the crosshairs of politics and greed. Fortunately, there are heroic individuals and organizations that are working diligently with little fanfare to protect and preserve habitat and critical landscapes so species can not only survive but thrive.
LDF grantee Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) is one such group. They work throughout the world supporting grassroots organizations and individuals who are on the frontlines fighting to save species. These species include not only the iconic ones like lions and elephants but also those lesser-known species that are no less critical to the health of our natural world. One example is the cotton-top tamarin. Weighing less than a pound, they are among the most endangered primates in the world.
LDF has been a major supporter and partner with WCN on the Elephant Crisis Fund, an effort that is working to deploy strategic funds to the best efforts to stop the killing of elephants, address the trafficking of ivory and end the demand. To date, the ECF has granted $9.7 million to 141 projects in 30 different countries working to turn the tide for elephants. And for the first time since the ivory crisis flared up, birth rates for elephants has exceeded death rates from poaching, a sign that the effort is working. WCN is now working closely with LDF on creating a similar fund for lions, another species on the brink, that will aim to secure and expand protected habitat for lions across Africa.
We share this planet with all living things. We are all connected. It’s critical that we recognize our dependence on not only the air, water, and land but our need to share the planet with the species that can’t speak for themselves. We are honored to work with grantees like WCN who are working fervently to give voice to the voiceless so we can protect and restore habitat critical to their survival at all costs.
LEONARDO DICAPRIO FOUNDATION