New Nature Reserve to Protect Globally Unique Forest in Tanzania

Rainforest Trust has helped establish the Magombera Nature Reserve, a 6,463-acre protected area preserving a globally unique forest ecosystem in East Africa. To create this new reserve, Rainforest Trust teamed up with a consortium of stakeholders that includes a theme park, a foundation, two other conservation organizations, four African villages, two universities, and the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania.

“Magombera is a global priority for so many reasons, ranging from its value to endangered primates, to its role as a wildlife corridor, to its phenomenally diverse plant community,” said Rainforest Trust CEO Dr. Paul Salaman. “Knowing of its extraordinary importance, it is a great privilege for us to band together with such a diverse coalition to work for Magombera’s protection and management.”

The nature reserve was identified as a top 10 Priority Primate Area in Tanzania as it hosts rare primates such as the Endangered Udzungwa Red Colobus Monkey, which is found exclusively around this area of Magombera Forest and nearby Udzungwa Mountains. The cooler habitats in these montane forests shelter many other species as well, such as the Udzungwa Dwarf Galago—one of the smallest primates in the world. Large iconic species such as African Elephants and Hippopotamus are also found in the Magombera Forest, as well as a wide variety of smaller fauna, including endemic species such as the Kilombero Reed Frog and Endangered Magombera Chameleon, which was only discovered here in 2009.

Since the 1970s, conservationists have been campaigning for the protection of Magombera Forest in Tanzania, which research showed would disappear by 2018. This area is part of the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania and Kenya, a mountain chain only slightly larger than Rhode Island but awash with an astounding amount of unique species. With over 1,000 endemic species, the Eastern Arcs are considered the most biodiverse forests of the African continent. Research has found that the Udzungwa Mountains are one of the most important within the Eastern Arcs for protection. However, without this protection, the forest would have remained  threatened through agricultural expansion and illegal activities including tree-cutting for charcoal and poaching of elephants.

The Endangered Magombera Chameleon. Photo by Andrew Marshall.

Despite the consortium facing significant struggles in the beginning, new financial support from Rainforest Trust, World Land Trust and the Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation allowed it to reach its funding target, which was then used to secure land from a private owner of part of the forest.

Additional funds from Rainforest Trust are now also being used to develop and implement a conservation management plan for the new reserve. This will include extensive community engagement as there are more than 30 tribal groups with more than 10,000 people living near the new reserve. The Magombera Forest is a vitally important place for local communities who depend on the adjacent land for farming. Without the invaluable ecological services provided by the adjacent forest, this important agricultural region would be under serious threat from flood and soil erosion. Rainforest Trust’s local partner Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) is administering ongoing conservation and education programs to these communities. The Magombera Nature Reserve will break boundaries in forest conservation by ensuring that tourist entrance fees will go to both local communities to provide alternative livelihood options and the managing government authority.

 

With the support of our generous friends around the world, our partners and the SAVES Challenge, this project is a success. A special thank you to Eric Veach and Luanne Lemmer, Harry Amin and Ariel Premium Supply for their leadership support.

Header photo: Magombera landscape. Photo by Tanzania Forest Conservation Group.

 

Protection for Key Biodiversity Area Expanded in Ecuador

At the end of 2018, Rainforest Trust and Fundación Jocotoco expanded the Buenaventura Tropical Reserve in southwestern Ecuador by 362 acres.

Buenaventura is part of the Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena ecoregion. This area, restricted to a narrow strip between the Andes and the Pacific in Colombia and Ecuador, is a biodiversity hotspot. But the region is also one of the world’s most threatened. Here, only patches remain of once sprawling forests. Rainforest Trust and Jocotoco’s ultimate goal is to protect over 12,000 acres with the reserve to preserve the remaining intact forest.

The ecoregion has many microhabitats, a phenomenon stemming from shifting rainfall patterns. While one corner may only see 15 inches of rain per year, another may see upwards of 150 inches. This microhabitat diversity has lead to incredible ecological diversity. This small corner of South America is home to over 11,000 vascular plant species and 900 bird species.

Buenaventura covers both dry and wet microhabitats, thus protecting habitat for many species. The reserve is home to 61 bird species, including 15 globally threatened bird species — the most of any private reserve in Ecuador. It’s also the most important habitat for the Endangered and recently discovered El Oro Parakeet and El Oro Tapaculo.

The Endangered El Oro Parakeet, protected by the Buenaventura Reserve.

Other species in the reserve include nine recently discovered amphibian species. Out of these nine species, five have never been seen outside the reserve. The forest is also habitat for the Critically Endangered Ecuadorian Capuchin Monkey and some rare plant species.

But the real value of the new protected land comes at a landscape level. In such a fragmented forest ecosystem, connecting viable habitat is crucial to conservation. Any hyperdiverse ecosystem such as this requires large reserves to protect species. But in a mountainous region such as this, large reserves play an important role countering the effects of global climate change. As the climate warms, species move up mountain slopes to stay cool. Hence, any reserve without an elevation gradient may be defunct in a few years. Expanding Buenaventura will expand the reserve’s range of elevation, and thus, its conservation potential.

Buenaventura is part a larger conservation vision to protect a 200,000-acre corridor in Ecuador’s El Oro Province. As of now, the reserve is the only reserve in the proposed corridor. But with continued expansions, the dream of a thriving and intact Chocó gets closer and closer.

This project was made possible through the support of the SAVES Challenge and the Conservation Action Fund. A special thanks to the Butler Foundation and Hans and Hildegarde Schaefer for their leadership support.

Establishment of Galápagos Nature Reserve

Rainforest Trust and Fundación Jocotoco worked jointly to purchase a 250-acre property of threatened humid forest in the highlands of San Cristóbal Island, Galápagos. The Galápagos archipelago has an extraordinary concentration of endemic wildlife, and is recognized as an international conservation priority without equal. The property now secured for protection contains key breeding habitat for the Critically Endangered Galápagos Petrel as well as numerous other globally threatened and endemic species.

“As I saw firsthand in my recent visits to the Galápagos, Galápagos wildlife is under tremendous pressure from rapidly spreading invasive species,” said Rainforest Trust CEO Dr. Paul Salaman. “The urgency to protect this unique habitat and the exceptional species that depend on it is very real.”

In 1835, Charles Darwin arrived at the Galápagos Islands and over the course of five weeks discovered an astonishing diversity of unique species found nowhere else in the world. His observations, which began on the island of San Cristóbal, laid the groundwork for what is considered one of the most important scientific breakthroughs of all time — the theory of evolution by natural selection. His insight changed forever the way we perceive the world.

The Critically Endangered Galápagos Petrel. Photo by Lip Kee.

This relatively young island chain, comprised of 128 islands, islets and rocks, was formed millions of years ago by volcanoes – some of which are still active and shifting land masses today. However, only 18 of the islands are considered large and only four are inhabited by humans. While 97 percent of the archipelago’s emerged and uninhabited landmass is protected as a national park, the four islands on which humans reside – including San Cristóbal – are extremely vulnerable to development threats, including invasive species arriving with container ships. With three extinct volcanoes dominating this island, its rich soils and lush montane vegetation have long attracted farming and settlements, such as the capital of the Galápagos province, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. The southern highlands of San Cristóbal are dominated by private properties which are used for agriculture, and the remaining habitat is highly threatened by invasive species ranging from plants and livestock to parasites.

“The communities and governmental agencies have done tremendous work on the Galápagos. Fundación Jocotoco is happy to join forces with them on San Cristóbal, the only island where no colony of the Galápagos Petrel is found within the national park. Jointly, we will protect this critically endangered species and other threatened species,” said Dr. Martin Schaefer, President of Fundación Jocotoco.

To protect the vulnerable species on San Cristóbal, Fundación Jocotoco and Rainforest Trust established the Galápagos Nature Reserve. Rainforest Trust is supporting Fundación Jocotoco’s work to protect additional habitat that will combine with this purchase for a total of 568 acres. With these efforts and our subsequent, sustained conservation activities, we will permanently secure one of the most unique, scientifically important and biologically outstanding areas on Earth.

This purchase was made possible with the support of the SAVES Challenge and the leadership gifts from the Avaaz Foundation, Global Wildlife Conservation, The Marshall-Reynolds Foundation, Shayde Christian, Spindrift Family Foundation, Emmerson Bowes, Biha Chen and Jackson Loomis and David B. Donsker.

 

Header photo: The Endangered San Cristóbal Mockingbird. Photo by Rainforest Trust.

 

New Protected Area Designated to Safeguard Endangered Bats and Rats

The Municipality of Tubajon in the Philippines just announced the designation of a new protected area on Dinagat Island, one of the country’s smaller islands off the north coast of Mindanao. The Tubajon Bat Sanctuary is approximately 3,500 acres and secures habitat for numerous threatened and endemic species such as the Dinagat Bushy-tailed Cloud Rat, the shrew-like Endangered Dinagat Gymnure (also known as the Dinagat Moonrat) and the endemic Dinagat Tarsier, a recently discovered primate distinct from its relatives, the Philippine Tarsier.
 

A bat roost on Dinagat Island. Photo by Green Mindanao.

 
Rainforest Trust teamed up with local partner GREEN Mindanao to create this new reserve as the second stage of a much larger project that will establish four new protected areas for a total of more than 16,000 acres — an area larger than Manhattan — in order to save the island’s unique and endangered fauna and flora. Dinagat Island is home to 400 plant species and more than 100 bird species.

“This designation by the Tubajon government will help provide a permanent safe haven for many unique species on Dinagat,” said Rainforest Trust CEO Dr. Paul Salaman. “It is an important step in protecting this vital habitat from mining and other threats.”

Community engagement and involvement in the creation and management of the new protected areas are integral components of the project. Led by teachers, church workers and local indigenous groups, there is a palpable desire for conservation and sustainable development on Dinagat Island, as evidenced by community-led protests against destructive mining companies. A management council composed of representatives from the municipal government and local people will oversee the new protected areas, with forest guards and local police enforcing new regulations

An anti-mining congresswoman native to the island along with local officials are negotiating with mining interests to select where the new protected areas will be established. So far, these officials have secured the approval of nine out of 10 participating mining companies. Financial support will be utilized to map and delineate the new protected areas, as well as enable workshops for management and protection training. Patrol equipment, ranger stations, wildlife habitat assessments and policy adoption are key components of this project.
 

Header photo: The Near Threatened Dinagat Tarsier. Photo by Kok Leng Yeo.

 

Major Acquisition Campaign to Protect World’s Most Unique Site for Biodiversity

On Colombia’s Caribbean shores stands the highest coastal mountain on earth. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is a corrugated pyramid of rock that rises almost four miles high. This ancient massif dates back to the Jurassic period and contains a microcosm of the entire planet from deserts to rainforests to glaciers, with an extraordinary diversity of plants and animals found nowhere else. It is regarded as the planet’s single most important site for threatened and endemic biodiversity as it boasts the highest concentration of endemic bird species in the world. As a result, the prestigious journal Science dubbed the area the “Most Irreplaceable Site on Earth” and a major priority for biodiversity conservation.
 

The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Photo courtesy of ProAves.

 
Located on the Sierra Nevada’s most vulnerable northwestern flank – less than ten miles from the city of Santa Marta – is perhaps the world’s most important nature reserve – El Dorado. Established in 2006 with Rainforest Trust support, we have helped our Colombian partner Fundacion ProAves greatly expand the reserve’s protected area over the past decade, safeguarding habitat for threatened species such as the Critically Endangered Santa Marta Toro and the Santa Marta Harlequin Frog. Only one individual of the Santa Marta Toro has been documented in over 100 years, and it was found in the El Dorado Bird Reserve in 2011 and identified by Rainforest Trust CEO Dr. Paul Salaman. The elusive species is restricted to the northwest slope of the Santa Marta mountain range, making it exceptionally vulnerable.
 

The Santa Marta Parakeet. Photo courtesy of ProAves.

Following decades of uncontrolled colonization and agricultural expansion, only 15 percent of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta’s original vegetation remains unaltered. Principle threats include the expansion of farms, pasturelands and coffee plantations. In addition, the construction of new vacation homes poses a growing danger to the forests.

In a final push to consolidate this crucial reserve, Rainforest Trust is seeking $1,824,957 to strategically acquire key properties and protect 12,179 acres to provide a safe haven for the planet’s most important biodiversity hotspot. With rampant deforestation placing this biodiversity jewel at tremendous risk, our partner has surveyed the landscape to locate the most critical areas for endangered and endemic flora and fauna. These are the areas that will be urgently protected in perpetuity. In addition, a multifaceted conservation program has been implemented that includes reserve protection, eradication of invasive and non-native Mexican pines, a massive habitat restoration program and installing nest-boxes to help the Santa Marta parakeet populations rebound. The ongoing expansion of the reserve is critical to safeguard the area’s wildlife. The new 12,179-acre sanctuary will safeguard the future of countless endangered species that depend on this unique area for their survival.
 

Header photo:

Landscape view of El Dorado. Photo courtesy of ProAves.

 

Strategic Land Purchases Continue in Guatemala’s Cerro Amay Cloud Forest

In 2018, Rainforest Trust helped purchase multiple properties including a 119-acre parcel — about the size of Vatican City — to expand the Cerro Amay-Chimel Cloud Forest Preserve in Guatemala. The preserve was just created last year, when Rainforest Trust and local partner Fundación para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación (FUNDAECO) purchased six properties totaling 995 acres within the Cerro Amay Cloud Forest, which is among the largest areas of intact forest left in Central America.

“This new land purchase in Cerro Amay is another critical step in our efforts to halt the threats to this unique habitat,” said Rainforest Trust CEO Dr. Paul Salaman. “This project will also benefit local communities as it will help promote ecotourism and implement sustainability initiatives in the surrounding indigenous villages.”

As a tropical montane cloud forest that sits atop a limestone plateau, the Cerro Amay Cloud Forest yields a spectacular and biodiverse refuge for native wildlife and flora. The preserve safeguards threatened species such as the Critically Endangered Guatemala Spikethumb Frog, Yucatán Black Howler Monkey and the Endangered Geoffroy’s Spider Monkey. Several salamanders new to science have also been discovered in this region.

The Critically Endangered Guatemala Spikethumb Frog. Photo by Josiah H. Townsend.

Despite this ecosystem holding significant biodiversity value, extensive road building and deforestation have occurred since protection efforts began in 2008. Loggers currently extract cloud forest oaks at an estimated rate of three to four truckloads per week on the main access road. To combat this degradation, Rainforest Trust and its local partner will continue to make strategic land purchases to expand the Cerro Amay-Chimel Cloud Forest Preserve through 2019.

This project was made possible through the SAVES Challenge, with special thanks to Harvey and Heidi Bookman for their leadership support.

 

Main photo: The Endangered Yucatán Black Howler Monkey. Photo by Greg the Busker.

2018 Regional Overview: Latin America

Central and South American rainforests are the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world. From the world’s wettest rainforest in the Chocó region of Ecuador and Colombia to the spectacular cloud forests of Guatemala to the mighty Amazon, these ecosystems harbor immense amounts of life.

But they’re facing accelerating threats from logging, mining and agricultural expansion.

That’s why Rainforest Trust intensified efforts to strategically save the most important sites with endangered species, working alongside our locals partners in Latin America this year. Through this bottom-up approach, we’ve protected 619,799.6 acres — an area nearly five times the size of Ireland — at 25 critical reserves from Peru to Mexico.

In Peru, we worked with ten indigenous communities to protect over 500,000 acres. With the Costa Rican government we declared the country’s first shark sanctuary in Golfo Dulce. This marine protected zone safeguards the main birthing and nursing area for the endangered Scalloped Hammerhead.

Endangered Scalloped Hammerheads swim in Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica. Photo by Olas David/Misión Tiburón.

Last year, Rainforest Trust purchased and protected a private reserve for the rediscovered Critically Endangered Blue-eyed Ground-dove. But this year, the state of Minas Gerais created the 86,708-acre Botumirim State Park around that reserve. So together, these lands shield a vital corner of Brazil’s threatened Cerrado ecosystem.

In Ecuador, we purchased 4,743.6 acres of private lands at risk of logging to strengthen a growing nature reserve network. These properties expanded the size of six existing protected areas, including the Tapichalaca and Dracula Reserves. But these achievements were only the latest of many years spent protecting Ecuador’s most important habitats in the world’s megadiverse Chocó and Andean biodiversity hotspots.

The Dracula Reserve in Ecuador. Photo by Tatiata Jaramillo.

We also expanded the Cerro Chucanti Nature Reserve in Panama and the Cerro Amay-Chimel Cloud Forest Preserve in Guatemala. In South America, we continued expanding both the Guapiacu Ecological Reserve in Brazil and the Selva de Ventanas Natural Reserve in Colombia.

But it wasn’t only species that benefited from these protections. In fact, three project sites in Latin America featured notable archaeological discoveries! At Cerro Chucanti in Panama, our partner uncovered pottery, likely from pre-Columbian settlements. The Selva Maya project in Guatemala also featured a remarkable find: A recent LiDAR study (laser scanning from low-flying airplanes) identified a sprawling network of Mayan ruins to demonstrate the site’s global cultural significance.

Rainforest Trust’s Latin America conservation team worked hard on the ground to coordinate a further 70 future land acquisitions and designations across the region to protect 8,872,595 acres — an area four times the size of Yellowstone National Park!

But our finished projects weren’t all we did this year. We also started on new projects in Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil and beyond.

Our diverse program from small purchases to creating massive indigenous reserves means we’ve protected so much in the hyper-diverse rainforests of Latin America this year.  But we know that despite our success, there are still many threats, known and unknown, to the species and the land.

Our continued success in Latin America is thanks to the ongoing support of people like you.  

All gifts to support our important conservation work are matched by the SAVES Challenge so you have double the impact. Please join us today to step up efforts now!

Blue-naped Chlorophonia in the El Dorado Bird Reserve, Colombia. Photo courtesy of Fundación ProAves.

2018 Regional Overview: Africa

Rainforest Trust knows the best way to make conservation projects a success is by involving the most important stakeholders — local communities. We embraced this tenet in Africa this year, where we protected a total of 869,812 acres through the support of community members living and working closest to the rainforest in 18 different countries.

Working with communities to establish protected areas and management plans is a long but critical process. A reserve Rainforest Trust helped to create in 2016 officially launched this September with a community-focused regional ceremony. Over 250 people — from clan chiefs to government representatives — came to celebrate the opening of Liberia’s Gola Forest National Park. The 219,609-acre reserve protects a critical portion of a West African biodiversity hotspot, safeguarding habitat for more than 60 species of conservation concern based on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. These species include the Critically Endangered Western Chimpanzee and the Endangered Pygmy Hippopotamus.

Endangered Pygmy Hippopotami. Photo by Michelle Bender.

In October, with the government of Cameroon, we announced the creation of the country’s first national park since 1932 — the Douala-Edea National Park. This Western Chimpanzee stronghold includes 350,000 acres of new protection for mangrove forests, wetlands and coastal habitats.

Also in Cameroon, we worked to save one of the continent’s most important locations for amphibians. The community-supported Mount Manengouba Herpetological Sanctuary is a 5,542-acre reserve, 6.5 times larger than Central Park, that protects 100 species of amphibians, 89 species of reptiles and 270 bird species. By working with communities, we are helping to build a conservation strategy that benefits wildlife and local people.

The 847-acre Onepone Endangered Species Refuge, which also protects vital populations of endemic amphibians, was designated in Ghana. The new refuge was named for the traditional moniker of the local people, who were integral in the official designation.

The Critically Endangered Togo Slippery Frog found in the Onepone Endangered Species Refuge. Photo by Herp Conservation Ghana.

One of the largest community-focused projects by Rainforest Trust is in Tsinjoarivo-Ambalaomby. This region is part of Madagascar’s eastern rainforest chain and home to Critically Endangered primates such as the Sibree’s Dwarf Lemur and Diademed Sifaka, in addition to two Critically Endangered endemic orchids.

Just last week, Rainforest Trust surpassed over 20 million acres of critical rainforests saved since its founding in 1988. This milestone came with the declaration of three new community reserves in the Democratic Republic of Congo!

Rainforest Trust had 27 new fellows and 44 new guardians join our Fellows and Guardians Programs in Africa this year. These programs recognize and support individuals working with our partners on the frontlines of managing our reserves and parks.

Rainforest Trust’s current work in Africa will protect an additional 9,590,180 acres in 2019. We urgently seek your support to continue this important work saving endangered species and the tropical habitats where they live. Please join us today to step up efforts now!

2018 Regional Overview: Asia and the Pacific

Rainforest Trust purchased and protected 74,206 acres in Asia and the Pacific this year, including a variety of unique habitats!

Some of these acres were home to small, endemic species found nowhere else in the world. On Indonesia’s Sulawesi Island, Rainforest Trust added 72 acres to a now 47,328-acre protected network of coastal habitat. This area is a key nesting location for the Endangered Maleo, an iconic turkey-like bird. We also added five parcels of vital riparian habitat to the buffer zone of Nepal’s Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve. Here, we’ve protected 485 different bird species on 42,560 acres, including the Critically Endangered Bengal Florican.

A pair of Endangered Maleos nesting. Photo by WCS-Indonesia.

In a small but mighty declaration, we protected 20 acres in Fiji which includes a cave that is home to 95 percent of the global population of the Endangered Fijian Free-tailed Bat. The community hosted an elaborate dedication ceremony for the new Nakanacagi Cave Reserve that included traditional song, dance, and feasting.

Communities were also in support of ecological corridors for far-ranging charismatic species. In Malaysia, Rainforest Trust helped created and then expanded the new Kenyir State Park to 74,140 acres. This park permanently protects precious habitat for the Critically Endangered Malayan Tiger while overturning a major logging concession valued at $45 million in timber.

The emerging Lumbasumba Conservation Area will be the crucial link in a mosaic of protected areas across the Himalayas of southern China, Nepal and India. The corridor will ultimately unite 14 million acres – an area vital for Snow Leopards, Red Panda and other threatened species.

The Vulnerable Snow Leopard. Photo by Tambako the Jaguar.

Rainforest Trust continues to strengthen protective measures for our reserves and parks. For example, on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia we purchased a property and establishing a new ranger training facility while in Myanmar, we’re building a guard station at the Mahamyaing Wildlife Sanctuary.

From the Pacific islands of Palau, Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia, to India, Cambodia and Vietnam, Rainforest Trust continues its work to protect at risk rainforests. And next year we start a major effort to assist new reserves in Papua, Laos and Thailand.

“Asia’s incredible biodiversity is threatened by the rate and scale of development in the region,” shared Angela Yang, Rainforest Trust Asia Conservation Director. “It is quite literally a race against time to create these critical protected areas to ensure the survival of globally threatened species and their habitats.”

Our in-country partners and Rainforest Trust’s Fellows and Guardians coordinate these projects on the ground. Seventeen Rainforest Trust Fellows joined our ranks in Asia and the Pacific this year, performing essential tasks to create new reserves and parks. Furthermore, 21 Rainforest Trust Guardians are on the frontlines of protecting endangered species and reserves across the region.

Rainforest Trust Guardian Akshay Gawade in the proposed Prachitgad Community Reserve. Photo by Jayant Sarnaik.

But the work is far from over. Our current projects in Asia and the Pacific will protect an additional 1.6 million acres in 2019. Rainforest Trust urgently seeks your support to protect Critically Endangered species like the Philippine Eagle and Bornean Orangutan. All gifts are matched by the SAVES Challenge, doubling your impact. Please join us today to step up efforts now!

 

First Species from Rainforest Trust Auction Named to Fight Climate Change

The first species from Rainforest Trust’s Species Legacy Auction on December 8 has been named, to widespread news!

 

Screenshot of winning bidder’s announcement. Credit: EnviroBuild.

 

The sustainable building materials company EnviroBuild based in the UK purchased the naming rights to a caecilian in our historic Species Legacy Auction on December 8. Researchers discovered this worm-like, legless amphibian in a Rainforest Trust-supported reserve in Latin America earlier this year. EnviroBuild’s winning bid of $25,000 allows them to decide the species’ scientific name.

EnviroBuild wanted to use this opportunity to bring attention to climate change. So they decided to name this unusual creature “donaldtrumpi”, after the 45th US President.

“[The word] “caecilians” is taken from the Latin ‘caecus’ meaning ‘blind,’ and [they] have rudimentary eyes which can only detect light or dark,” shared Aiden Bell, co-founder of EnviroBuild. “Capable of seeing the world only in black and white, Donald Trump has claimed that climate change is a hoax.” Caecilians also spend their lives digging through soil in the rainforest, another feature that EnviroBuild sees as reminiscent of Trump’s approach to climate change. Bell writes that “burrowing its head underground helps Donald Trump when avoiding scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change.” This comes in the wake of a late-November report from the President’s own administration that the negative effects of climate change can be felt across the country.

The Caecilian being named as donaldtrumpi.

But climate change is not relegated to one region, and has far reaching implications for the global ecosystem. As amphibians with sensitive, breathable skin, caecilians are especially susceptible to pollution and changes in climate. Their potential extinction would be a harbinger of ecological devastation yet to come. Rainforest Trust’s project is protecting donaldtrumpi’s habitat, but that doesn’t help the species escape the devastating world-wide effects of uncontrolled climate change.

“I encountered many Caecilians in the Colombian Andes while conducting fieldwork, and while not the most charismatic species, I can attest to their dependence on pristine rainforests and sensitivity to climatic conditions.” said Rainforest Trust CEO Paul Salaman. “Future local and global changes in the climate will potentially be devastating to this unique group of vertebrates. So no matter the chosen name, we’re excited that the $25,000 donated to name this species is being used to conserve its habitat in perpetuity.”

Rainforest Trust held the auction in honor of 30 years of conservation success. It featured 12 new-to-science species, with all proceeds going to the reserves in which the plants and animals were discovered. The caecilian garnered the highest bid of the evening.