WASHINGTON, DC, November 23, 2010 – As world leaders gather for a historic summit to save tigers from extinction, Leonardo DiCaprio today committed $1 million to World Wildlife Fund for urgent tiger conservation efforts through his Fund at the California Community Foundation. DiCaprio will also attend this week’s summit.
Across Asia, tiger numbers have dropped from 100,000 at the beginning of the last century to as few as 3,200 today. Heads of government from the 13 tiger range countries are gathered in St. Petersburg, Russia, for a first-ever summit to save tigers hosted by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. They are expected to announce a Global Tiger Recovery Program with a goal of doubling the number of wild tigers by 2022.
DiCaprio, a WWF board member, recently visited Nepal and Bhutan with WWF experts, touring tiger habitat on elephant back alongside antipoaching staff, meeting with community members, and learning how WWF scientists monitor the park's tigers. The donation will add to DiCaprio’s existing commitment to tiger conservation during this Year of the Tiger. Earlier this year, he joined forces with WWF in an effort to raise $20 million for tiger conservation through the Save Tigers Now campaign.
“It's been a pleasure to work with Leo. He cares deeply about the fate of tigers and the human communities with whom they share their habitat. He is committing his time, his wealth, and most importantly, his talent to this cause," said Carter Roberts, president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund. “His financial commitment will spark urgent on-the-ground conservation for tigers. His storytelling will inspire people around the world to help."
DiCaprio's donation will help support antipoaching efforts and protect critical tiger forests where the needs are most urgent.
"Illegal poaching of tigers for their parts and massive habitat loss due to palm oil, timber and paper production are driving this species to extinction,” said DiCaprio. “If we don’t take action now, one of the most iconic animals on our planet could be gone in just a few decades. By saving tigers, we can also protect some of our last remaining ancient forests and improve the lives of indigenous communities."
The 13 countries where tigers still exist are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Money raised by DiCaprio and WWF through Save Tigers Now will go to fund antipoaching efforts and habitat protection in the 12 priority landscapes across Asia that WWF believes represent the best locations to maintain viable, thriving populations of tigers. The money will also fund advocacy and outreach activities to build support for tiger conservation.