Modern-day explorer David de Rothschild remembers the confronting time he witnessed an entire herd of elephants, including two calves, being brutally slaughtered by poachers.

“There were two young elephants, they didn’t have ivory – they had nothing the poachers could take, and they still killed them,” Rothschild says. “You see these incredibly majestic creatures, that have been around for thousands of years, and the poachers are hacking them up for profit.

“Every single day we’re losing more and more of these elephants – and other majestic animals from the ocean and the land, and we’re running out of time.”

“The first time you see an elephant that has been killed by poachers; the first time you see clear-cut logging; the first time you see a dead whale on the beach full of plastic; or turtles that have been strangled by plastic, you really realise how important it is for us to correct the course that we’re on,” – David de Rothschild

Time, or lack thereof, is why Rothschild has partnered with Breitling in hopes of sharing the grim reality facing Earth, and change our world’s future before it’s too late.

The environmentalist joined the Explorer Squad alongside Bertrand Piccard, who was the first person to fly non-stop around the world in a balloon, and Inge Solheim, who has guided teams of wounded veterans to the North and South Poles.

The adrenaline-seeking squad is one of four – including jet, surfer and cinema – which are all striving to make a positive impact on the world by embodying Breitling’s core values: action, purpose and pioneering spirit.

“Every single day we’re losing more and more of these elephants – and other majestic animals from the ocean and the land, and we’re running out of time,” – David de Rothschild

“The first time you see an elephant that has been killed by poachers; the first time you see clear-cut logging; the first time you see a dead whale on the beach full of plastic; or turtles that have been strangled by plastic, you really realise how important it is for us to correct the course that we’re on,” Rothschild told The CEO Magazine. “It’s not a matter of will it happen, it’s a matter of when will it happen and how quickly might it happen. That’s the thing I think we’re underprepared for.

“It’s happening now.”

As the youngest Briton to reach both geographical Poles, Rothschild says travel is the key to change.

“It’s the greatest mentor,” he says. “You’re outside your comfort zone. Whenever you spend time on the frontline and look at the cause and effect of humanity, you realise our human fingerprint and we’ve smudged it with human creations.”

Having sailed from 8,000 miles San Francisco, US, to Sydney, Australia, on a sustainable ship constructed from 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles to alert the world about the effects of single-use plastics, Rothschild’s passion for the ocean is clear.

The explorer, who fiddles with the bezel of his special edition Superocean Chronograph during our interview, recalled a time when he could see kilometres of plastic waste flooding an Asian beach.

“There are so many river systems in Indonesia full of plastic just dumped out onto the beach at low tide; flip flops, lighters, toothbrushes, plastic bottles, plastic lids and plastic bags, as far as the eye can see – and you’re in the middle of nowhere,” he says.

Rothschild, who founded Sculpt the Future Foundation, hopes his partnership with the heritage chronographers will educate society and slow down the human effect on Earth.

“It’s not a matter of will it happen, it’s a matter of when will it happen and how quickly might it happen. It’s happening now,” – David de Rothschild

Each squad, with more to be announced, will work with Breitling to share their endeavours through unique projects in years to come.

“Tell the politicians and businesses that they can’t sell our future, they can’t mortgage our future,” he says. “We need to keep on fighting for what’s right.”

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