Wild tigers grateful for Leonardo DiCaprio

By Melissa Platero, CCNN Writer

tiger conservation
Tigers stop by a small river in Nepal for an afternoon drink.

Leonardo DiCaprio, who’s starred in multiple successful flicks ranging from Titanic to The Great Gatsby, is putting his fortune to use in saving endangered tigers.

The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation has donated $3 million to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in order to create tiger corridors (habitats separate from human areas), prevent poaching (illegal hunting), and aid communities in Nepal.

This isn’t the first time DiCaprio has aided the cause of tiger conservation, because he’s long been a passionate defender of the environment. In 2010, he joined with the WWF to launch Save Tigers Now, which raises money and public support for wild tigers.

“Leonardo DiCaprio defies expectations in leveraging his voice and influence to restore tigers and their habitat in one of the most hopeful places on Earth,” said Carter Roberts, the President and CEO of the WWF. “His foundation is all about delivering real results for conservation on the ground and empowering local communities; nowhere is that more evident than in Nepal. The numbers speak for themselves and we are grateful for our partnership.”

Nepal is currently on its way to becoming one of the first tiger range countries to fulfill the 2010 Global Tiger Summit’s goal of doubling the population of wild tigers by 2022, the Year of the Tiger. DiCaprio’s donation will be put to use in the 9,000 square miles of Nepal called the Terai Arc Landscape, which includes protected areas important to tiger, rhino, and elephant survival. It also contains 7 million people who use the surrounding natural resources in their own lives, and the money should help both the human and wildlife communities. Park rangers will be able to use more sophisticated monitoring tools to take on poachers, while park structures like guard posts and animal safety zones can be expanded.

“Time is running out for the world’s remaining 3,200 tigers, largely the result of habitat destruction and escalating illegal poaching,” explains DiCaprio, a WWF Board member. “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. I am grateful for the amazing support our Foundation has received – especially to our partners at Christie’s who helped create an historic night for conservation fundraising with the 11th Hour Auction.”

Images courtesy of Government of Nepal-DNPWC/WWF Nepal and Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.