In Cameroon, a tropical tree discovered in the Ebo forest, located north of Douala (south), received the name of the famous actor Leonardo DiCaprio.
Scientists at the UK’s Kew Botanical Garden explained that in 2020, the Hollywood star had pledged alongside conservation organization Re: wild to prevent the authorization to harvest for timber production. works of more than 68,000 hectares of this forest.
In total, more than 200 plants and fungi were officially named in 2021 by Kew researchers and their partners around the world.
And among those species, which range from a killer tobacco plant to an orchid that grows in total darkness, is Uvariopsis dicaprio. This tree discovered in the forest of Ebo is 4 meters high and has a trunk decorated with large yellow-green flowers.
“We really appreciated the support that Leo gave us in the campaign to protect Ebo last year, so it seemed appropriate to honor him in this way, by naming with his name a species unique to this forest”, explained Dr Martin Cheek, principal investigator in the Kew Africa team.
“If the logging concession had been launched, we would probably have lost this species to timber extraction and slash-and-burn agriculture that usually follows logging concessions,” he added.
the tree is already threatened
But Uvariopsis dicaprio is already considered critically endangered as the forest in which it is found is still threatened by logging, mining and conversion of land to plantations.
“As long as a species does not have a scientific name, assessing its risk of extinction is almost impossible, making protection against extinction and researching their properties incredibly difficult,” Kew pointed out.
Several species on the 2021 list are already considered threatened with extinction due to threats to their natural habitat and three are already said to be extinct.