A voice for endangered animals everywhere
Last year, he donated a million dollars to World Wildlife Fund to save the endangered tigers. This year, he’s joining with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to protect the elephants.
Leonardo DiCaprio is passionate about wildlife. The 36-year-old actor announced yesterday that he’s leading a new initiative, Elephants, Never Forget, to focus on the crisis that elephants face.
“The ivory trade fuels conflict and strife,” DiCaprio said. “Elephants are killed by poachers so their tusks can be traded for weapons and drugs by international criminal organizations before becoming trinkets and jewelry for consumers. Authorities in 85 countries have seized almost 400 tons of ivory on the black market since the 1989 ivory trade ban.”
Twenty years ago, an international ivory trade ban was put in place to protect elephants. But things have only gotten worse, thanks to rising demand for ivory from newly affluent Chinese consumers. Ivory prices in China have soared to $7,000 a kilogram this year, compared to $157 a kilo in 2008, according to the Environmental Investigation Agency.
IFAW is grateful for the celebrity’s help. “We are honored to have Leonardo’s support for our Animal Action campaign to stem the ivory trade,” said IFAW President Fred O’Regan. “With his help, we hope to create a groundswell for elephant protection that can’t be ignored.”
As part of his campaign for the tigers last year, DiCaprio flew to Moscow to attend a tiger summit hosted by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The plane ran into engine trouble and was forced to make an emergency landing. But DiCaprio raced to Moscow regardless.
“I thought maybe other people would give up. But DiCaprio is not like that,” said Putin. “We could call him a real man.”