- Scientists described a new species they named the Uvariopsis dicaprio
- DiCaprio made “extensive” efforts against logging in Cameroon’s Ebo Forest
- Unfortunately, the new species itself has been assessed as “Critically Endangered”
Scientists have named a new species after Leonardo DiCaprio. The move is to honor the star for his efforts in protecting the species.
Scientists described a new tropical tree from the Ebo Forest in Cameroon in a paper published in the journal Peer J. Collected by Kew scientist Lorna MacKinnon, the new species is a member of the ylang-ylang family. It grows up to four meters tall and has “large, glossy, bright yellow-green” flowers on its trunk, the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, the U.K., noted in a news release Thursday.
A group of international scientists from Kew and the National Herbarium of Cameroon named it the Uvariopsis dicaprio, after Leonardo DiCaprio, as a tribute to the key part he played to prevent logging in the Ebo forest back in 2020.
“The Ebo Forest area is a highly threatened center of diversity in the Littoral Region of Cameroon, globally important for conservation with many threatened species, including 68 threatened species of plant, yet not formally protected,” the researchers wrote in the paper describing the new species, adding that the U. dicaprio is so far “restricted” to a single site in the Ebo forest.
For “several months” in 2020, the actor and conservationist took to social media to “extensively” campaign against logging in the area after the Cameroon government granted permission for it earlier in the year. DiCaprio reportedly drew attention to the threats many rare Ebo Forest species would be facing because of the logging concession.
The permission was canceled by August that year “surely partly due to his efforts,” the researchers wrote, adding that it gave hope for the future of the many “unique and threatened species” in the forest.
“We very much appreciated the support Leo gave us in campaigning to protect Ebo last year so it seemed fitting to honor him in this way,” said Martin Cheek, the lead of the Africa team in the identification and naming department of Kew.
The “spectacular” U. dicaprio is Kew’s first addition to its new species list for 2022. Unfortunately, it has also been assessed to be “Critically Endangered” as it is threatened with extinction due to activities such as small-scale agriculture, mining, logging and deforestation for palm oil plantations — “widespread” threats that pose “extinction risks” to Cameroon’s plant species, the researchers noted.