by Kim Sams, Director, Disney Corporate Social Responsibility at The Walt Disney Company
At any given moment anywhere in the world, someone is hard at work saving a species. These efforts can take many forms, such as field research on oyster reefs along the Florida coast, habitat protection for penguins in Argentina, community education programs benefitting gorillas in Africa, preservation efforts for Hawaiian Monk Seals, working with schools and communities to teach bee conservation and much, much more.
For more than 20 years, the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF) has been committed to saving wildlife, inspiring action and protecting our planet through philanthropic support of nonprofit organizations that work alongside communities to conserve our natural resources and wildlife.
This month, the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF) awarded more than $5 million in grants to support 76 organizations working to protect the magic of nature around the world, including$782,000 to seven Florida-based organizations for academic research, wildlife conservation and habitat restoration.
The fund also recognized 13 people across the globe with the Disney Conservation Hero award for their tireless efforts to save wildlife and inspire communities to take part in conservation efforts.
Among this year’s grant recipients is the International Rhino Foundation (IRF), which is working to save critically endangered Sumatran rhinos from extinction in Indonesia. Today, there are fewer than 80 Sumatran rhinos left in the wild. IRF is addressing threats to this species, working with communities to ensure these rhinos and their habitats are protected.
One of IRF’s employees, Sumadi Hasmaran, has been recognized as a Disney Conservation Hero for his leadership in the establishment and management of the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) – a 250-acre breeding and research facility. Sumadi oversaw construction of the SRS and engaged people living nearby through employment and other livelihood opportunities. His dedication to the sanctuary resulted in the birth of the first two Sumatran rhino calves in a managed setting in Asia in more than 140 years, an important achievement for a species on the brink of extinction.
These efforts for rhinos are part of a larger conservation commitment that has helped protect more than 400 species through projects spanning half the countries around the world.
While the majority of funding for DCF is provided by The Walt Disney Company, it is supplemented by the generous contributions of guests visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom and other select Walt Disney World Resort locations, sailing with Disney Cruise Line or staying at select Disney Vacation Club resorts.
I hope you enjoy reading about these latest DCF projects and think about how you might get involved. No matter how you help save species, by recycling your household waste, contributing time through volunteerism, or donating, we can all do something to make a difference to protect our planet.