We’re throwing hats off to Leonardo DiCaprio and it’s not just for his performance as Gatsby. May 18th marks Endangered Species Day, a day devoted to spreading awareness about wildlife protection, animal and environmental causes, and most importantly, taking action.
Can you imagine a world without these beautiful creatures in it?
Neither can we.
And neither can he.
Sadly, we saw with our very eyes evidence of animal populations disappearing at an alarming rate during our trip to Kenya and Tanzania last year. It took days – five days precisely – until we finally saw one of the elusive and endangered Black Rhinos. To our pleasant surprise, it was a mother rhino with her baby calf! But — it was the only rhino sighting in a week on safari.
With threats like poaching (animals are not medicine!), habitat loss and overuse of natural resources, it takes a village — often literally as in the wildlife recovery story happening in Namibia — the global village to make a difference.
But when there is a victory, let’s celebrate it! In addition to supporting several projects around the world, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation’s partnership with the World Wildlife Fund has helped to double the number of wild tigers living in Nepal’s Bardia National Park.
This week, DiCaprio helped to organize and bring Hollywood friends together for a major fundraising event in New York with Christie’s to benefit environmental and wildlife conservation efforts supported by the Foundation.
The “The 11th Hour Charity Auction” event, which raised about $39 million, featured the work of 30 of today’s most important living artists from around the world. Some of the pieces were created specifically for the auction. All were donated by the artists.
DiCaprio himself got in on the auction action – in true Gatsby form – to win a Takashi Murakami acrylic for $735,000. (Yes, you read that right.)
[box_light]Did you know? 2013 is the 40th anniversary of the Federal Endangered Species Act![/box_light]
The Oscar-winning actor has long been an environmental and animal rights activist. His Foundation’s mission in fact is “Dedicated to protecting Earth’s last wild places and fostering a harmonious relationship between humanity and the natural world.”
According to his website, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation has focused attention on environmental and humanitarian issues around the world including wildlife and habitat preservation, healthy oceans, water access, climate change and disaster relief. They raise funds to support the initiatives through grant making, campaigning and media projects.
“My Foundation has worked on environmental issues since 1998, and despite the great efforts by organizations all over the world, our planet is in trouble. The modern world is placing enormous pressure on the very natural systems that sustain us; we are destroying our forests, polluting the air and water, overfishing our oceans and facing overwhelming extinction rates of plants and animals. Consequently less than 2% of our Oceans and 12% of our forests and wildlands are protected. Nature is abundant and it is resilient, but we have to take action now to protect our planet before it’s too late. Given that less than 2% of philanthropic giving goes to environmental conservation projects, we are grateful that Christie’s and the participating artists are providing this incredible opportunity,” said DiCaprio.
The partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) was a natural fit, as their efforts extend from protecting forests that slow climate change to filtering water to oceans that provide more than one-sixth of the world’s food. From tigers and rhinos to whales, polar bears, and sea turtles, it’s an uphill battle when there are so many worthy causes around the globe competing for attention and funds. http://worldwildlife.org/species
DiCaprio currently serves on the board of the World Wildlife Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, International Fund for Animal Welfare and Global Green USA.
5 Ways to Celebrate Endangered Species Day:
- TAKE ACTION – Tell the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that reviewing the environmental risks of large scale projects is critical for wildlife.
- Update your Facebook Timeline pic – Show your support for endangered species with a photo of your favorite wildlife species. Let us know you did it by including @National Wildlife Federation in your status message.
- Help spread the word via Twitter – Share an Endangered Species Day story or wildlife message with your friends and family. Make sure to include #speciesday in your tweet.
- Attend an Endangered Species Day event! Events are held across the country to highlight endangered species stories.
- Help Kids Learn About Biodiversity! NWF’s Eco-Schools has resources to get students ready to celebrate biodiversity and conservation.
* Tips courtesy of the National Wildlife Federation.
To make a donation to Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, visit their profile at the California Community Foundation.
To learn more about the WWF and donate, visit worldwildlife.org.