DiCaprio’s wildlife charity auction brings in $38.8 million
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Christie’s auction house raised $38.8 million through a charity art auction and donations, Christie’s said on Tuesday, with proceeds to benefit environmental and conservation causes.
The 33 works in The 11th Hour Auction organized by the star of the new film “The Great Gatsby” sold for $31.74 million on Monday evening and set 13 records for artists including Carol Bove, Joe Bradley, Mark Grotjahn, Raymond Pettibon and Mark Ryden among others.
A $5 million matching donation for three of the lots and additional gifts from donors brought the overall total to $38.8 million for The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, according to Christie’s.
“All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you,” DiCaprio told the audience at the end of the auction.
A major campaign to crown Scotland’s most iconic wildlife creature is underway as part of a year-long celebration of the country’s natural treasures.
The red deer, golden eagle, harbour seal, otter, and red squirrel have been chosen as animal ambassadors for the nation to kick-start the £350,000 drive.
Images of them in spectacular locations around the country are to take centre stage in a high-profile new billboard advertising campaign across the UK.
But the joint drive by VisitScotland and Scottish Natural Heritage is aimed at persuading people to plot their own routes around the country so they can capture them on camera themselves.
A dedicated website for the “Scotland’s Big Five” campaign offers tips for the best time of year, location and kind of habitats in which to spot each creature, as well as character profiles of the five animals - which have also been given nicknames. There is also advice on possible touring routes for the best prospects of seeing all five contenders for the title.
SNH said they had been specifically chosen to spearhead the campaign as they were “high profile species, widely associated with Scotland, with a broad geographical spread and that people stand a good chance of seeing them in the wild.”
New bridge means link to NY wildlife refuge island
A new bridge provides hunters, hikers, bikers and birders with year-round access to 3,500 acres of protected wilderness in the Montezuma Wildlife Management Area in Savannah, N.Y.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation says the elevated, 100-foot-long wooden bridge will carry vehicles across the Seneca River to Howland Island. It replaces a temporary gravel and culvert in the river, which often flooded in the spring and fall, preventing access to the island.
The bridge removes the last barrier to kayaks and canoes, opening up a 10-mile float around Howland Island.
A parking lot on the island provides access to 300 acres of marshland and 17 miles of gravel service roads in the refuge.
The bridge, completed this month, was built with funding from an excise tax on firearms and ammunition.
Afghanistan has opened its first ever national park and is preparing for the day when tourists might visit to marvel at its spectacular scenery, archaeological treasures and wildlife.
The high mountain lakes of Band-e Amir draw thousands of local visitors every year but there’s been a sharp fall in numbers this year, as the threat along the road towards Bamiyan has risen.
The BBC’s Andrew North reports.
Mexico declares nature reserve on Cozumel island
Mexico’s environmental authorities say they have declared the northern shore of the Caribbean island of Cozumel a protected nature area, with strict limits on human activity there.
The Environment Department says about 146 square miles (378 square kilometers) of the island and coastal waters will be protected under the measure.
The area designated Wednesday constitutes the shores and offshore shelf on the northern half of the island. The area is mostly unpopulated and well away from Cozumel’s town, marinas and cruise ship dock.
Two species have native ranges only on the island: the Cozumel spiny lizard and the Cozumel racoon, which is a dwarf raccoon.
Work has begun on more than 60 projects aimed at improving wildlife habitats on the Avalon Marshes in Somerset.
Visitor facilities will also be improved in the £2.7m scheme which is set run over three years. Naturalist Stephen Moss said: “In the next 10 years another challenge is to get tourism working here as it’s so important for the rural economy.”
The Avalon Marshes, near Glastonbury, currently attracts 70,000 visitors a year.
The scheme is being run by the Avalon Marshes Landscape Partnership. The partnership is made up of Somerset Wildlife Trust and includes Natural England, the Hawk and Owl Trust, the RSPB, Somerset County Council, English Heritage and the Environment Agency.
About £1.8m has been given by the Heritage Lottery fund to run the scheme with the remaining balance coming from other sources, such as the RSPB and Natural England. Charities such as the RSPB will use the money to put in new devices to control water levels.
Another aim is to encourage school trips and tourism so people can learn about the area’s cultural and ecological history. Archaeologist Bob Croft from Somerset County Council said: “We’ll be putting in new heritage interpretations at the old Peat Moor Centre [now called the Avalon Marshes Centre] where we’ll put in new reconstruction buildings.
“We’re going to build a Roman building, another Iron Age roundhouse, and even a Saxon hall.”
The British wildlife photography awards celebrate the diversity of the natural history of the British Isles and the talents of all photographers practising in the UK.
Scientists identify new species of monkey
So beautiful! A new species of monkey (Cercopithecus lomamiensis), known locally as the lesula.
Full story HERE.
Rocker Slash helps launch new wildlife foundation
The former Guns N’ Roses guitarist lends support to new Bob Irwin Wildlife Conservation Foundation.
Look At These Ingenious Gorillas of the Day: Earlier this week, a poacher’s snare captured and killed a wild gorilla infant in Rwanda.
But in a wildly exciting turn of events, conservationists witnessed just days later a pair of wild gorillas identifying and dismantling similar traps.
Veronica Vecellio, gorilla program coordinator at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, is ecstatic:
This is absolutely the first time that we’ve seen juveniles doing that … I don’t know of any other reports in the world of juveniles destroying snares.
We are the largest database and observer of wild gorillas … so I would be very surprised if somebody else has seen that.
‘Queen’ guitarist turns estate into wildlife refuge
Brian May, one of the greatest guitarists of all-time, hopes he’s remembered more for his wildlife activism than his music.
Richard Branson bringing native birds back to Virgin Islands
Billionaire philanthropist says the reintroduction of 3 bird species marks the first time they’ve been seen on the island chain in more than 100 years.
‘Untamed Americas’: Stunning new National Geographic series makes debut
The two-night event explores wildlife and ecosystems in a brilliant, high-definition thrill ride.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has created two new nature reserves, as well as seven indigenous territories in the Amazon.
The reserves are among a raft of environmental measures Rousseff signed into law on Tuesday, just weeks before the United Nations’ mega-conference on sustainable development. The Rio+20 conference is to be held in Rio de Janeiro from June 20-22.Tuesday’s signing also comes amid environmentalists’ criticism of Rousseff, who they’ve blasted for putting economic development before environmental protection.
In remarks during the signing, Rousseff defended her record, saying that Brazil has become “one of the most advanced countries” in sustainable development.
The new, 34,000-hectare Bom Jesus Biological Reserve is in the southern state of Parana, while the 8,500-hectare Furna Feia National Park is in the northern Rio Grande do Norte state.
Fifteen conservation groups have banded together to save around 2,400 hectares (6,000 acres) of primary rainforest in Guatemala.
Home to a dozen imperiled amphibians as well as the recently discovered Merendon palm pit viper (Bothriechis thalassinus,) the new park, dubbed the Sierra Caral Amphibian Reserve, lies in the Guatemalan mountains on the border with Honduras in a region that has been called the most important conservation area in Guatemala.
“This major land purchase lifts the last hurdle for the Guatemalan government to declare the area a National Wildlife Sanctuary, something that local communities and conservationists have been desperately awaiting since 2000,” said Marco Cerezo, head of FUNDAECO, in a press release. FUNDAECO, a Guatemalan conservation group, spearheaded the drive to save the wilderness from conversion into cattle pasture.
By partnering with Global Wildlife Conservation, FUNDAECO was able to enlist the help of over a dozen conservation groups to raise the money needed to save the forest. The Guatemalan government had previously pledged to protect the forest but held off due to lack of funds.
“This success story demonstrates how international alliances and local and national conservation leadership capacity can come together and protect unique species and habitats for future generations to enjoy,” said. Claude Gascon, co-chair of the IUCN/SSC Amphibian Specialist Group.
One of the most fascinating species in the forest is the elusive and little-known Merendon palm pit viper. A bluish-green snake, the species was only described in 2000. In addition, the reserve is home to three salamander species known only from the Sierra Caral mountain range. Alarmingly, nearly half of the amphibians (5 out of 12) in the reserve are currently listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List.
Not just home to reptiles and amphibians, the park is also vital habitat for threatened bird species. The Sierra Caral Amphibian Reserve is known to harbor populations of the highland guan (Penelopina nigra), the great curassow (Crax rubra), and the keel-billed motmot (Electron carinatum), all three of which are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. In addition, the forest is an important stopover for hundreds of migrating bird species.
“The Sierra Caral reserve is important not only for the rare and endangered species that are unique to the region, but also as a corridor for animals between the continents,” explains Brian Sheth, chair of Global Wildlife Conservation.
As such, the preserve is also a vital piece of the ‘Jaguar Corridor Project’ which aims to preserve habitat for jaguars and other animals from Mexico to Argentina. The conservation groups note that the forest has been little-studied and may still hold species unknown to science. Recent decades have seen new species of insects and amphibians uncovered in the mountains in addition to the discovery of the Merendon palm pit viper.
“This is a real triumph for the planet—conservationists across North and Central America banded together to save the last stand of this unique rainforest,” said Paul Salaman, head of the World land Trust-U.S.
Additional support for the new reserve came from the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (USFWS), International Conservation Fund of Canada (ICFC), American Bird Conservancy(ABC), Conservation International (CI), and others.