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