Actor and nature conservationist Leonardo DiCaprio has been given the esteemed privilege of naming a newly discovered species of snail-eating snake, Simon irmelindicaprioae, after his mother, Irmelin Indenbirken. The species was found in the largely unexplored Choco-Darien jungle, along the Pacific coast of Colombia and northern Panama.
Investor and conservationist Brian Sheth also honored his daughter with a new species naming, among the recent discoveries of three other species in Ecuador, Colombia, and Panama.
Loss of Biodiversity in Endangered Rainforests
Previously pristine rainforests, which harbor immense biodiversity and serve as crucial carbon sinks in the fight against the climate crisis, are being destroyed by open-pit mining operations, posing a severe threat to the survival of rare species such as tree-dwelling snakes.
The canopy snail-eating snake (Sibon canopy) and vieirai’s snail-eating snake (Sibon vieirai) are among the species facing increased extinction risk. The research, conducted by Ecuadorian biologist Alejandro Arteaga and Panamanian biologist Abel Batista, was published in the journal ZooKeys.
Arteaga reflects on his first visit to the Nangaritza River rainforest in 2014, "The species of snake is extremely rare and can be found in the trees of the largely unexplored Choco-Darien jungle, which stretches along the Pacific coast of Colombia and north to Panama." "Previously pristine rainforests, which harbor immense biodiversity and serve as crucial carbon sinks in the fight against the climate crisis, are being destroyed by open-pit mining operations, posing a severe threat to the survival of rare species such as tree-dwelling snakes." "I remember thinking the place was an undiscovered and unspoiled paradise...in fact, the place is called Nuevo Paraíso in Spanish, but it is a paradise no more.
Hundreds of illegal gold miners using backhoe loaders have now taken possession of the river margins, which are now destroyed and turned into rubble." He added: “These new species of snake are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of new species discoveries in this region, but if illegal mining continues at this rate, there may not be an opportunity to make any future discoveries”.