Warrenton’s Rainforest Trust: Give species naming rights as holiday gift

This salamander is among the new-to-science species whose naming rights are up for auction. (Courtesy Rainforest Trust)

WASHINGTON — The Warrenton, Virginia-based Rainforest Trust has an unusual holiday gift idea: Give someone the rights to name a newly discovered species in South America.

In what the nonprofit calls the largest-ever public auction of species naming rights, it is running a monthlong auction for holiday shoppers to buy the gift of naming one of 12 new species recently discovered in nature preserves the Rainforest Trust and its partners established in South America.

The trust said these new-to-science species include a blue-eyed yellow frog, speckled red and green frogs, orchids, a trap jaw ant, a forest mouse, a wormlike caecilian and a big-eyed red salamander.

All proceeds from auction winners go to its mission of protecting the habitat of the specific plant or critter to help save them from extinction.

The auction, online and by phone, runs from Nov. 8 to Dec. 8. There is also a live auction in D.C. during a private event Dec. 8.

Minimum bids start at $10,000, with anticipated winning bids estimated at $15,000 to $25,000. Freeman’s Auction House and auction aggregator Invaluable are donating their services for the auction.

There are no rules about what the name can be, as long as it doesn’t violate a trademark.

Rainforest Trust said since its founding in 1988, its donations have helped it purchase and protect 19 million rainforest acres, about 1.3 million acres of tropical forest in 2017 alone, with $21 million in donations last year.

The trust said half of the world’s rainforests, among the most important natural resources on the planet, have been destroyed, with 70,000 acres lost every day.

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