“Survivor” in more ways than one

Rosy periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus) growing on a hillside in Madagascar.

Whether you obsess over or scoff at reality television shows like “Survivor,” it’s hard not to be inspired by the personal battle of Ethan Zohn, as recounted in his recent op-ed piece on cnn.com.

In 2009, the “Survivor: Africa” winner was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. A year later, his disease is in remission, and Zohn is a staunch supporter of CI partner Alliance for Global Conservation – all thanks to a pink flower called the rosy periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus). Natural compounds in the plant were instrumental in the development of the chemotherapy drug vincristine – just one of the many nature-derived medicines that are saving countless lives every day.

If the Earth’s biodiversity loss continues unchecked, not only will we lose species with documented benefit for humans (as a food source, cultural or medicinal value), but as-yet-unknown species will also continue to disappear, taking with them potential benefits for future generations.

Read more about nature-based medicines and how survivors like Ethan Zohn are standing up for biodiversity protection.

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