Noted environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio is supporting Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo through Earth Alliance. The park made headlines earlier in the year when multiple park rangers were attacked and killed in the park.
DiCaprio will provide the park with $2 million in seed money as part of the launch of the Virunga Fund. The park has lost substantial revenue due to the coronavirus crisis as the park has been closed since March. The fund provides disease prevention, mountain gorilla protection and law enforcement support, including family support for fallen rangers.
“I had the great honor of meeting and supporting Virunga’s courageous team in their fight against illegal oil drilling in 2013,” said DiCaprio, “Virunga urgently needs funds to protect the endangered mountain gorilla population, to provide support to the rangers and the families of rangers who have fallen in the line of duty, and to help deliver essential disease prevention efforts. It’s critical that we rally together during this time of incredible crisis.”
12 rangers, a drive and four community members were killed in April during a militia attack in the park.
“The COVID-19 pandemic underscores just how profoundly interconnected life is on our planet and how protecting nature’s balance is critical to our health and economic security. The heroism of Virunga’s rangers does not just benefit the wildlife and local communities that live in and near the park, but all life on Earth. We are calling on the global community to join us in helping to support and protect these guardians and the irreplaceable wildlife and wildlands they protect,” said Brian Sheth, Global Wildlife Conservation board chair and co-founder and president of Vista Equity Partners.
Virunga National Park was established in 1925 as Africa’s first national park and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979. The park is home to Mountain Gorillas and encompasses 3,000 square miles. The rangers are charged with protecting the safety of people and animals in the park.
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