Ian Somerhalder

Urging wildlife preservation, Ian Somerhalder testified before the Congress on behalf of the Multinational Species Coalition.

"Environmental conservation has not been just a passion of mine, but a priority," said The Vampire Diaries actor, whose Ian Somerhalder Foundation focuses on habitat conservation, species protection and clean energy initiatives.

Somerhalder, 32, shared his thoughts Thursday on a bill that would reauthorize the African Elephant Conservation Act, the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act of 1994 and the Asian Elephant Conservation Act of 1997. He cited research about tigers, rhinoceroses, African elephants, Asian elephants, marine turtles and great apes.

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"Due to instability or indifference in the areas that many of these species call home, for most of them we are the first, last, and only hope for survival. As the ones with the power to make a difference, the responsibility rests with us. It is imperative that we live up to it," he added.

The bill was introduced on Jan. 5. It still needs to be voted on by the House and Senate.

Watch Somerhalder testify: