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By José Antonio Pérez / Shandra Keesecker-Rivero
In social network messages sent out May 10th, U.S. Oscar winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio expressed his views in there only being an estimated 30 of the endangered vaquita marina in the Upper Gulf of California. With 17.7 million followers, the actor tweeted a message urging Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to take urgent steps to save the small mammal (Phocoena sinus). This comes at a time when the situation has become “dramatic”, joining the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) campaign which for years has unsuccessfully warned about the imminent extinction of the species.
The actor, renowned for his environmental work, signed the Save the Vaquita petition and asked for people to join the cause.
Over twitter, @LeoDiCaprio urged “The vaquita is the most endangered marine mammal in the world. Join me + @World_Wildlife and take action,” with a link to the WWF Action Center https://t.co/sB80PCeTG9
Similarly, the actor’s Instagram account read: “The smallest member of the porpoise family is the most endangered marine mammal in the world. Unsustainable and illegal fishing practices have caused a dramatic decline in the vaquita’s population. Fewer than 30 vaquita may be left in the wild and without immediate action, they face imminent extinction. Join me and @World_Wildlife and let President Peña Nieto of Mexico know that we demand action to protect the vaquita today.”
Greenpeace México has also expressed its concern, stating the Mexican government and international community have failed in protection of the species. In the last 25 years, it remarks, none of the policies implemented have been successful in addressing the vaquita’s extinction due to accidental capture and death.
“We know what must be done to save the vaquita within its natural environment: put an end to totoaba fishing (which is also considered an endangered species); this should be done not just through surveillance but also socio-economic support policies in the region to involve communities in protecting the vaquita,” affirmed Gustavo Ampugnani, Executive Director of GreenPeace in Mexico.
Interestingly, DiCaprio had also tweeted about the vaquita marina on September 28, 2016 “Urgent action needed this week or vaquitas may be gone by next
@CITES. RT to tell China, the US, and Mexico to act now! #CITES #CoP17” At that time, estimates pointed to 60 vaquita remaining while presently this number has dropped to 30.