The 46-year-old Oscar-winning actor, Forest Whitaker and Djimon Hounsou are working with the 37-year-old Duke of Sussex and leading conservationists to call for an end to oil and gas drilling in the Okavango River Basin, per a release release from Re:wild.
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The Okavango River Basin’s river systems supply water to nearly 1 million people, as well as surrounding wildlife in the area. It also includes the Okavango Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage site recognized for its biodiversity, and two Ramsar wetland sites.
Reconnaissance Energy Africa, a Canadian oil and gas company, began drilling in the Okavango River Basin in 2020 after they got a license for exploratory drilling, despite objections and concern from local communities.
Harry published an op-ed with Namibian activist, conservationist and poet Reinhold Mangundu in the Washington Post on Thursday (October 14), writing that the drilling would cause “permanent destruction” to the area.
“We believe this would pillage the ecosystem for potential profit,” they said. “Some things in life are best left undisturbed to carry out their purpose as a natural benefit. This is one of them.”
Citing a recent pipeline leak off the coast of California, they continued, “There is no way to repair the damage from these kinds of mistakes. Drilling is an outdated gamble that reaps disastrous consequences for many, and incredible riches for a powerful few. It represents a continued investment in fossil fuels instead of renewable energies.”
The pair added, “The risk of drilling will always outweigh the perceived reward. In a region already facing the abuse of exploitation, poaching and fires, the risk is even higher. Knowing the above, why would you be drilling for oil in such a place?”
Leonardo posted a video to his Instagram last week, calling for fans to add their name to an open letter calling for an end to oil and gas drilling in the region.
“Re:wild stands with the people of the Okavango River Basin, who depend on the health of the watershed for their survival,” the caption reads. “ReconAfrica is poised to pollute their farms and destroy a beautiful landscape—one that benefits all life on Earth—forever. Join us by signing the open letter at the link in bio. Together, we can #SaveTheOkavango. For all wildkind.”