We know him from “Titanic”, “Shutter Island” and recently “The Great Gatsby”. But Leonardo DiCaprio has taken on an even bigger role: wildlife and environmental advocate. He has been raising awareness and tackling issues from climate change to rhino and elephant poaching for about 15 years.
In 1998 he started the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which focuses on wildlife and habitat preservation, healthy oceans, climate change and disaster relief. Through the foundation, he is involved in grant making, campaigning and media projects. He encourages collaboration between organizations and other celebrities. In 2007 he co-produced “The 11th Hour”, a short film bringing attention to the state of the environment.
In a 2008 interview DiCaprio stated “We need to be the ones to set an example for the rest of the world. We are the leading consumers, the biggest producers of waste around the world and, unless we’re the ones to set an example for less industrialized countries, how is the rest of the world going to follow? If you’d ask any environmentalist about George Bush’s policies on the environment, he gets close to an F.”
In addition, he in involved on the board for the WWF (World Wildlife Foundation), and for the IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare).
Recently he, along with Edward Norton and Mark Hoppus (Blink 182) participated in a Twitter storm to spread the word about rhino and elephant poaching. Their combined efforts helped the Zoological Society of London to win the Google Global Impact award. The $500,000 grant will plant cameras with sensors in the poaching hotspots across parts of South Africa. The prediction is with the cameras, poaching in Tsavo National Park alone will be reduced by 50% in two years.
DiCaprio was recently greenlighted to do two separate films with Tobey Maguire and Tom Hardy; one will take on poaching. The anti-poaching drama will be similar to “Traffic”, showing multiple characters and storylines showing the impact of poaching, from the ground war in Africa to animal material being used in fashion houses in Paris. The other film will focus on illegal animal smuggling in Africa.
“It’s interesting because, all this inevitably boils down to a publicity game for the planet and what’s good for the place we live in.”