Yes! The Wildlife Conservation Network announced a $1 million commitment from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF) to the Lion Recovery Fund (LRF). Recently, Leonardo DiCaprio announced that the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation will award $20 million in grants to more than 100 environmental organizations that focus on a variety of causes. The announcement to commit $1 million to the Lion Recovery Fund is part of the grant portfolio.

LRF was created by the Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) to help recover lions across Africa. LRF will work to create lion protection units to help combat the poaching of lions, as well as a community engagement project to train local communities to use camera traps to document the presence and abundance of lions and other wildlife.

“Lions are a keystone species and play a critical role in African ecosystems. Recovering them means the protection and restoration of Africa’s extraordinary biodiversity that drives a $34 billion tourism economy,” said Justin Winters, Executive Director of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.

Lions once roamed most of Africa and parts of Asia and Europe. However, today they are found only in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, except for one very small population of Asian lions that survives in India’s Gir Forest. According to WCN, lion populations have seen a precipitous decline from 200,000 to just over 20,000, over the last century. What’s more, thousands of other lions and wild cats are held captive, either in the entertainment industry where they are often abused and neglected, such as in circuseszoos, and parks. Or they’re captured from the wild and held in people’s backyards as exotic pets. In fact, there are more tigers in people’s backyards than there are in the wild.

The king of the jungle, lions are the only cats that live in family units, and they have been revered throughout history for their courage and strength. We are thrilled to know lions have Leonardo DiCaprio on their side.

To learn more about Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, click here.

Lead image source: AJC1/Flickr