Leonardo DiCaprio has won an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, and three Golden Globe Awards. After all, what else can you expect from the versatile actor who may be considered as one of the living legends in the time to come.
In another high, DiCaprio’s most recent recognition comes from a consortium of international scientists at London’s Royal Botanic Kew Gardens and Cameroon’s National Herbarium, who have named a new tropical tree species after the Hollywood actor and environmental crusader.
According to a news release announcing the tropical tree, which is the first addition to RGB Kew’s 2022 new species list, the uvariopsis dicaprio hails from Cameroon’s Ebo Forest.
The Ebo Forests make up half of the Yabassi Key Biodiversity Area, which is home to gorillas, forest elephants, and chimpanzees and is the ancestral region of more than 40 indigenous tribes. Plants are commonly named after scientists who have demonstrated devotion to a subject of study in botany.
A single step of help
When the Yabassi Key Biodiversity Area was threatened by a logging concession last year, DiCaprio brought attention to it.
The ylang-ylang family includes the uvariopsis dicaprio. It is four metres tall and has yellow and green flower bouquets on the trunk.
“The Ebo Forest in Cameroon, as well as all of the amazing wildlife that resides there, are in peril. Forest Elephants, Gorillas, Chimpanzees, and a variety of other animals fall into this category. Let’s work together to #SaveEboForest,” in August 2020, he declared in a message on his verified Twitter account.
The logging concession was cancelled by the Cameroonian government a month later.
Scientists thank Leonardo DiCaprio
“We were grateful for Leo’s support in our campaign to protect Ebo last year, so it seemed fitting to honour him in this way, naming a species unique to this forest after him,” said Martin Cheek, a scientist at RBG Kew who was involved in the research, in a statement announcing the findings, which were published in the scientific journal PeerJ recently.
“Had the logging concession been approved, we would have likely lost this species to wood exploitation and slash-and-burn agriculture, which is common in logging concessions.”
Because it lives in an unprotected forest environment that is vulnerable to logging and mining, the uvariopsis dicaprio is a critically endangered species.
The naming process
Last year, Kew scientists and partners formally identified more than 200 plants and fungi from across the world, including a pink lily from the same woodland, an insect-trapping wild tobacco plant from Australia, and a Madagascar orchid with star-like blossoms that can grow in darkness.
Several of these new species have already gone extinct, and many more are endangered as a result of deforestation, land clearing, and climate-related droughts, floods, and fires.
Three of the 16 new orchid species discovered in Madagascar are assumed to be extinct in the wild owing to habitat loss. One has vanished as a result of wood being cut down to produce plants for geranium oil, which is utilised in Europe’s aromatherapy sector. Copper mining is also threatening a new Cape primrose from the Congo’s Katanga province.