Nathalie Cely

Ambassador of Ecuador

It is easy to forget that the world is a small place. We aren’t just citizens of our countries; we are citizens of the world. And one small action on our part can have consequences—even hundreds or thousands of miles away. As an ambassador, I see this in my work every day.

This is especially true in the natural world. We humans may recognize strict divides in our political boundaries, but our natural ecosystems and our wildlife don’t distinguish between the different lines on a map. For instance, Ecuador shares the Amazon rainforest with Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru. Some of our whale species, such as the humpback whale, don’t only cruise the waters of the Galapagos Islands; they’re found throughout the entire world. And many of our birds grace us with their beauty only in the winter, moving on to the United States for the summer.

Some of these imperiled birds—such as the peregrine falcon, the brown pelican, and the piping plover—which travel between the United States and Ecuador, have become great success stories of the Endangered Species Act. We want all of our shared species to be similarly successful. Thanks to the passage of the Endangered Species Act in the United States, success is likely.

But the Endangered Species Act doesn’t just protect the species we share; it even protects the species that are found only in other countries. In Ecuador, a country which has an amazing number of species, we are particularly aware of the many dangers that plants and wildlife face. Sadly, Ecuador’s plants and wildlife don’t just fascinate scientists, but motivate unscrupulous collectors, as well. To protect imperiled plants and wildlife worldwide, the Endangered Species Act lists hundreds of foreign species that are imperiled in their home country and are now banned from being imported into the United States. Ecuadorian species such as the Floreana tree finch, Goeldi’s marmoset, giant otter, Galapagos tortoise, Galapagos petrel, Galapagos penguin, and Galapagos hawk are afforded extra protections, thanks to the Endangered Species Act.

Being an ambassador is all about seeing the other’s point of view, and giving a voice to those you represent in order to protect their interests in the world. I do that for Ecuador. I am Ecuador’s ambassador. But I believe we can all be wildlife ambassadors.

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