The Hollywood star has generously contributed to the Virunga Fund to help support the national park in its efforts to conserve the dwindling gorilla population.
Leonardo DiCaprio has always been a very vocal climate change activist and played a huge part in the conservation of the environment. He has now contributed to the Virunga Fund to help support the National Park in its efforts to conserve the dwindling gorilla population. DiCaprio along with Emerson Collective, who are co-founders of Earth Alliance, and support from the European Commission, have launched the $2 million seed fund. This comes after park rangers were attacked and killed by an armed militia group. They were trying to protect the lives of the civilians in that area.
Last month, at least 17 people, including 12 rangers were killed at the Virunga National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Democratic Republic of Congo, reported Aljazeera. Park authorities confirmed that it was an attack orchestrated by the rebel group 'FDLR-FOCA' or the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda.
Together with @Global_Wildlife @LeoDiCaprio & @EmCollective, we are delighted to support the creation of the Virunga Fund. #Virunga is a unique green economy model. It is a great example of how we want to implement the #GreenDeal through partnerships. https://t.co/gNaiE7qEnA— Jutta Urpilainen #UnitedAgainstCoronavirus (@JuttaUrpilainen) May 18, 2020
The National Park has been caught in this political crossfire and has claimed the lives of many rangers in the past. The park is famous as the home of the mountain gorillas which has also been adversely impacted by rising instability and violence. It has been enduring attacks from not only poachers but now, militia and rebel groups as well.
We are greatly saddened to learn that ranger Freddy Mahamba Muliro was killed during an attack weeks after the reopening of Virunga National Park in DR Congo. The park was shut last year for over 8 months after series of attacks on staff https://t.co/0Btty5ckpK via @guardian pic.twitter.com/TQPnQ7Sg7V— CITES (@CITES) March 9, 2019
In addition to all these dangers, the gorilla population as well as the elephants and hippos, have an uncertain future as the caretakers are now dealing with the impact of Ebola and COVID-19, the Global Wildlife Conservation stated. "I had the great honor of meeting and supporting Virunga's courageous team in their fight against illegal oil drilling in 2013," DiCaprio said in a statement to BBC News.
The actor is the executive producer for the Netflix documentary titled 'Virunga' and it was directed by Orlando von Einsiedel. It follows the brave people who are risking their lives "to build a better future in a part of Africa that the world has forgotten."
"Virunga urgently needs funds to protect the endangered mountain gorilla population, to provide support to the rangers and the families of rangers who have fallen in the line of duty, and to help deliver essential disease prevention efforts," he said. "It's critical that we rally together during this time of incredible crisis." As Africa's oldest and most biologically diverse protected area, that was inaugurated in 1925, it is home to more species of birds, reptiles, and mammals than any other protected area in Africa.
“Faced with coronavirus and Ebola, we have never been more worried about the future of Virunga National Park," Emmanuel De Merode, director of National Virunga Park stated. "Virunga’s rangers are racing against the clock to protect both the local communities that surround the park and the endangered mountain gorilla population from these twin threats."
The future of @gorillacd, home to the iconic mountain gorilla, is at risk as it deals w/ Ebola, COVID-19 & a recent attack on rangers. Today, w/ the help of GWC, @EmCollective & @leodicaprio, along w/ support from @europeaid, Virunga announced a new fund. https://t.co/hdy2ubs5C4— Global Wildlife Conservation (@Global_Wildlife) May 18, 2020
Brian Sheth, Global Wildlife Conservation board chair and co-founder and president of Vista Equity Partners said, "The COVID-19 pandemic underscores just how profoundly interconnected life is on our planet and how protecting nature’s balance is critical to our health and economic security."
Sheth implored, "The heroism of Virunga’s rangers does not just benefit the wildlife and local communities that live in and near the park, but all life on Earth. We are calling on the global community to join us in helping to support and protect these guardians and the irreplaceable wildlife and wildlands they protect."
In case, you want to donate and help protect the national park, please visit the Global Wildlife site here for more details.