You might know Leonardo DiCaprio from his starring roles in films such as Titanic or The Great Gatsby, but what you may not know is that for years he has raised money for environmental causes under a foundation that bears his name.
For the actor, it’s all about protecting life.
According to its website, The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation was “designed with the idea of protecting the last wild places of the world and saving vulnerable wildlife from extinction.”
It was established by the actor in 1998 when he was just 24-years-old but already concerned about how our changing climate was negatively affecting the Earth’s biodiversity.
Through the foundation – which has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for projects in well over 40 countries (and 5 oceans!) – DiCaprio has been an active supporter of other environmental organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). He’s even won major awards for his fundraising and donation efforts.
Recently, it was announced that he’ll make another major personal donation to these causes – a $15.6 million dollar one, to be exact.
That’s really putting your money where your mouth is!
While the announcement was published last October by Ecoportal, more information is coming to light months later. The money will be donated through the foundation itself and go towards funding conservation programs for species about to become extinct.
In recent years, the actor has been increasingly vocal about how little attention we’ve paid to crises around the world that are killing off entire species and ecosystems and creating spaces that are unliveable for people, plants, and animals simply because they’ve become too hot or water-poor to support life.
Severe weather, heat, and drought have all led to the drying up of inland water and has resulted in the creation of “climate refugees” seeking new homes.
He’s also been very clear that our current legislation is making more and more concessions to please industries that are doing most of the damage.
DiCaprio’s most recent donation appears to be earmarked for grants and projects that will help save animals that are at risk of being put on the endangered – or critically endangered – species list because of habitat destruction and poaching, such as giraffes.
Just a few days ago, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service said that it had found “substantial information” that giraffes deserved to be on the list – something most of us don’t realize since they’re still a common sight at zoos.
His donations – like so many – is based on the hope that people can make a real difference if they support and believe in the most effective projects taking place. Since there’s no way to stop much of what’s coming, the best we can do is face it head-on in the hopes of mitigating some of the damage and protecting life.
While he’s received some criticism in the past for less-than-eco-friendly activities (and who among us hasn’t?), he’s also faced those with great honesty.
For example, in 2016, he took a private jet to receive a conservation award and attend another fundraising event. When confronted with the headlines calling him a hypocrite, he said the only way to attend both events was to hitch a ride on a plane already making both flights.
But at the end of the day, regardless of what you think of any action he’s taken on a particular day, he’s also raised millions of dollars, given millions of his own money, auctioned off his home for charity, and used his fame to raise awareness of conservation efforts to protect life on our planet.
That’s certainly more than most of us can say!