Throughout the month of July, I along with the incredible assistance of Ya’axche Conservation Trust and Project Runway Season 7 winner, Seth Aaron have been protecting the Blue Morpho butterfly (Morpho peleides). But wait! That butterfly isn’t endangered? By golly, the butterfly isn’t even threatened! So why am I protecting it? Together we are protecting it because its home, the rainforests of Central and South America, are imperiled. With an estimated 1.5 acres of rainforest destroyed every second, time is ticking on the remaining 6% world coverage of rainforest left. And if there’s no forest, there will be no more wild blue morpho butterflies… But who cares?
So histrionic sounding, right?! Wrong. Studies suggest that the Brazilian rainforest alone could be gone within 40-50 years (though older predictions claimed it to be in 75-100 years). Although more than half of the world’s estimated 10 million species of plants, animals, and insects live in tropical rainforests. Do you think loosing this will yield no consequences for us?
1/5th of the world’s fresh water is located in the Amazon Basin! Not only do rainforests provide a reservoir of water, but also they are considered the “Lungs of the Planet”. Rainforests recycle ~20% of the planet’s oxygen. Medicinally, the rainforests appear to hold potential cures to current horrific conditions and diseases and perhaps to maladies that have yet to even erupt. Rainforest plants are rich in alkaloids, a secondary metabolite believed to protect plants from disease and insect harm. Some alkaloids have already been shown to possess medicinal capabilities.
And one would think that pharmaceutical companies would go out on a rampage against the multinational corporations and governments cutting down on the rainforest in order to gain greater profits in the future! Why? Because ~120 prescription drugs (though more probably have been approved since this statistic was released) are sold internationally from plant-derived sources. 25% of Western medicines are distilled from rainforest ingredients, and yet less than 1% of the rainforest has even been studied by scientists!
What is more frightening is the potential cures for a variety of cancers may be right under our noses- or really, right under our tropical tree canopies. The U.S. National Cancer Institute identified 3000 plants that respond positively against the presence of cancer cells. 70% of these plants are found in the rainforest. Wonderful news except for the tiny small print to notice that only 25% of all the active ingredients in our current anti-cancer medicines come from plants and animals found exclusively in our rainforests.
Knowing all this, wouldn’t it be fair to say that not only is the butterfly threatened by association but so, too, are we?
Wanna help me save the blue morpho butterfly now? Learn more and support the cause here: www.gabbywild.com
Facts can be backed up mostly by National Geographic, US National Cancer Association, Rain-Tree.com, and save-the-amazon.org.