Leonardo DiCaprio is continuing his work to support Africa’s Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Earth Alliance, which was co-founded by DiCaprio, Emerson Collective and Global Wildlife Conservation, has partnered with the European Commission to launch the Virunga Fund with $2 million in seed money.
The Virunga Fund will help protect the national park, as well as surrounding communities. Virunga has lost a significant amount of revenue since closing in March due to COVID-19.
The fund’s goals include disease prevention efforts, protection of the mountain gorilla and other species and support of law enforcement and families of fallen rangers.
“I had the great honor of meeting and supporting Virunga’s courageous team in their fight against illegal oil drilling in 2013,” said DiCaprio, who produced the 2014 Netflix documentary “Virunga.” “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. It’s critical that we rally together during this time of incredible crisis.”
According to the fund, 12 Virunga rangers, a driver and four members of the local community were killed in April in an attack by a militia group.
“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,” said Brian Sheth, Global Wildlife Conservation board chair and co-founder and president of Vista Equity Partners. “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.”
DiCaprio also recently joined forces with Laurene Powell Jobs and Apple and the Ford Foundation to launch America’s Food Fund, a fundraising initiative that has raised over $26 million with the goal of ensuring reliable access to food. The fund benefits Feeding America, World Central Kitchen, No Kid Hungry, Urban School Food Alliance and Save the Children US.
Additionally, the Oscar-winner raised more than $1.6 million by offering a set visit to his next film, “Killers of the Flower Moon” for the viral All In Challenge, which benefits America’s Food Fund, as well as No Kid Hungry and Meals on Wheels.