You may have seen him portray literature’s most popular characters, like Jay Gatsby or Romeo, or perhaps you’ve seen him playing historical figures like Howard Hughes and J. Edger Hoover, but Leonardo DiCaprio’s most influential role to date is his own philanthropy.
The Oscar-nominated actor, along with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, has contributed enormous support over the years to various environmental causes and humanitarian efforts. DiCaprio himself sits on the board of a number of international environmental organizations including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the International Fund for the Animal Welfare, Global Green USA, and the Natural Resource Defense Council. His latest contribution comes in the form of a $3 million grant to the WWF for the conservation of tigers in Nepal.
This very generous grant will help to protect, as well as restore, important habitats for the tigers. The grant will also focus on encouraging more action to reduce illegal poaching activity. However, the tigers are not the only beneficiaries of the grant. It is also intended to help the local communities by encouraging them to participate in economic opportunities like eco-tourism, which will help prevent poverty as well as threats to the endangered tigers.
DiCaprio told the WWF, “Time is running out for the world’s remaining 3,200 tigers, largely the result of habitat destruction and escalating illegal poaching. WWF, the government of Nepal and local communities are on the front lines of this battle and I am hopeful this grant will help them exceed the goal of doubling the number of these noble creatures in the wild.”
The balanced approach of international organization, government, and local community should be a winning combination for this effort to save the tigers in Nepal. The DiCaprio Foundation and the WWF are not new to the fight to save tigers, as both organizations contributed to the first joint tiger survey between India and Nepal. The results have been positive so far with an increase of tigers in Bardia National Park from just 18 in 2009 to 50 this year. Having the ability to monitor populations of any endangered species is the first step in helping that species recover.
In addition to saving tigers, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation has focused considerably on a number of environmental and humanitarian issues, including:
- Saving the last rainforests by working with the WWF and other foundations to save a block of Sumatran forest where endangered tigers, orangutans, and elephants inhabit but also where two indigenous tribes live.
- Protecting oceans through a collaboration called “Oceans 5″ which fights overfishing, and establishes marine reserves.
- Saving sharks by getting international trade restrictions for five threatened species of sharks.
- Protecting Antarctica by providing a grant to Antarctic Ocean Alliance.
- Providing a grant to supply sustainable access to clean water to 430,000 people in Darfur, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Tanzania.