The International Union for Conservation of Nature estimates we share the planet with 8 to 15 million species (and only 1.9 million have been discovered and named!). In addition to their cultural and religious significance in many countries, creatures large and small do all sorts of important things like help purify our bodies of water, pollinate crops, and provide us with food, just to name a few.
With the rise of illegal wildlife trades, pollution, and climate change, habitats increasingly face threats of destruction and many species are heading toward extinction, which is currently occurring at up to 1,000 times the natural rate.
If it feels like an overwhelming problem, you’re not alone in wanting to help. Organizations from nonprofits to government agencies, and even food companies, are coming together to protect our valuable resources and most vulnerable animals. And here’s some really good news: Sometimes making a difference is as easy as eating chocolate.
One company doing its part is Endangered Species Chocolate (ESC). Its straightforward name conveys the powerful mission behind each bar: to not only provide premium, natural chocolates that are ethically traded and sustainably grown, but to help protect wildlife in the process. ESC donates 10% of net profits to fund species and habitat conservation around the world—from chimpanzees to owls—and has donated $1.3 million over the past three years.
Let’s take a look at some of its global initiatives and partnerships from 2016!
African Wildlife Foundation
ESC helped its partner, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), protect 5,400 lions in Tanzania, and 40,000 chimpanzees in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. AWF has also been able to purchase additional patrol equipment to reduce poaching and maintain sanctuary fences for added protection. In Kenya’s Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary, AWF made improvements to watering points, which are critical in supporting local wildlife populations and keeping rhinos protected by park rangers.
Xerces Society is an organization that protects invertebrates like bumble bees, butterflies, dragonflies, and more. This Its partnership with ESC has made it possible for 20 states to install habitats for pollinators, effectively saving 230,000 acres of wildflowers. Xerces and ESC are also making strides to ban neonicotinoid insecticides—the most widely used insecticides in the world—which have been linked to declines of pollinators like bumblebees and butterflies.
Rainforest Trust is one of ESC’s newest partners, and works to help local, in-country conservation organizations protect and save its threatened tropical habitats. Since its founding in 1988, Rainforest Trust has worked on more than 100 project sites across 26 countries.
ESC is a model for what can happen when social impact is woven into a business model. If all this good work wasn’t enough to make ESC your new favorite chocolate company (dark chocolate with cranberries and almonds, anyone?), there’s even more to love! When it comes to ingredients, ESC uses only the best organic, non-GMO cacao sourced from small, family-owned farms around the world.
ESC’s bars are also the first to be made in the United States from fair-trade-certified West African beans that can be fully traced from farm to bar, a distinction recently given by Fairtrade America. According to CEO Curt Vander Meer, it assures customers that “every bite of our chocolate bars are making a positive impact in the lives of small-scale farmers in West Africa.”
Photo credit: David Kalka