Actor pledges million dollars to save tigers

2010-11-23 13:25

St Petersburg, Russia – Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio today pledged $1 million (about R7 million) to save the tiger, as he was scheduled to attend a summit in St Petersburg to help the big cat.

“Leonardo DiCaprio today committed one million dollars to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for urgent tiger conservation efforts,” the WWF said in a statement.

The summit in Russia’s second city of Saint Petersburg, hosted by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and attended by officials from the 13 states that are home to wild tigers, aims to double the numbers living in the wild by 2022.

The WWF also confirmed reports that “DiCaprio will also attend this week’s summit”.

US media reports have said that the Titanic star endured a troubled journey to Russia as he was among passengers on a Delta Airlines flight to Moscow forced to make an emergency landing in New York after losing one engine.

But it was not immediately clear whether DiCaprio has already arrived at the summit, which was later today to be attended by Putin and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao.

“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,” DiCaprio was quoted as saying in the WWF statement.

“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,” he said.

The WWF said DiCaprio’s donation will help support anti-poaching efforts and protect critical tiger forests where the needs are most urgent.

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