Steve Backshall, wildlife TV presenter and energetic supporter of World Land Trust (WLT), has raised more than £50,000 for the conservation charity by completing the 2015 Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race.
With the money raised, WLT has directly funded the purchase of 481 acres (195 hectares) of Chocó rainforest on the southern edge of Las Tangaras Bird Reserve and also guaranteed the salary of a ranger to protect the deadly Golden Poison Frog (Phyllobates terribilis) in the Rana Terribilis Amphibian Reserve.
John Burton, Chief Executive of World Land Trust, said: “Steve’s achievement is impressive. Not only did he take on an extreme challenge for World Land Trust but there was also an unprecedented level of interest in his fundraising campaign, which attracted hundreds of donations. We are very grateful for his support for World Land Trust and Fundación ProAves.”
Steve Backshall said: “After all the hard work that went into training for the race, and the hell we went through to complete it, I am absolutely delighted to know that it was all worthwhile. There is now a chunk of rainforest in Colombia that’s protected thanks to my efforts. I am also really pleased that the funds I raised are protecting the reserve where Phyllobates terribilis is found.”
Funds raised by the wildlife presenter have also contributed to the protection of the Golden Poison Frog, the most poisonous creature on earth, by funding the salary of a ranger employed by Fundación ProAves at the Rana Terribilis Amphibian Reserve. Ranger Venancio Florez Lopez is the beneficiary of Steve’s funding. He works in the reserve, which was created in 2012 by WLT with a donation from WLT’s corporate partner Puro Fairtrade Coffee. Venancio plays a key role in monitoring the breeding and tadpole development of Golden Poison Frogs on the reserve. His other duties include patrolling the reserve in order to prevent illegal logging, maintaining trails, meetings with community members, educational outreach with the local Timbiqui community, and guiding visitors across the reserve.
Steve’s fundraising total includes match funding of £15,000 from a WLT Council member, £7,500 from Maidenhead Aquatics, and £2,000 from Blue Forest.
For more information on World Land Trust, visit www.worldlandtrust.org