Leonardo DiCaprio is working to protect Virunga National Park’s endangered mountain gorillas.
DiCaprio co-founded the nonprofit Earth Alliance last July, along with the Emerson Collective and Global Wildlife Conservation. The nonprofit organization aims to help protect wildlife threatened by climate change. It has now partnered with the European Commission to launch the $2 million Virunga Fund.
“Today, Leonardo DiCaprio announced the Virunga Fund to urgently raise funds to support Virunga through this critical time,” Virunga National park announced yesterday in a Facebook post.
Located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, The park is Africa’s oldest and most biologically diverse protected area. Virunga is a UNESCO World Heritage site, internationally recognized for its lush habitats and wildlife.
“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.
He continued: “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.”
The Virunga Fund
The Virunga Fund’s launch came just in time for National Biodiversity Week. Biodiversity Week occurs this year from May 22 to 30.
“Virunga is Africa’s most biologically diverse protected area. Join Global Wildlife Conservation, Emerson Collective, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Europe Aid this Biodiversity Week in contributing to the Virunga Fund,” the park wrote on Twitter.
“The future of Virunga National Park […] is at risk as it deals with Ebola, COVID-19, and a recent attack on rangers,” Global Wildlife Conservation wrote on Twitter.
Last month, rebel forces attacked the park’s headquarters in Rumangabo. This resulted in the tragic deaths of twelve rangers, a park driver, and four civilians. The attack seriously injured three other rangers.
Virunga National Park faces a number of security threats. These include repeated attacks by armed rebels, illegal charcoal production, smuggling, and wildlife poaching.
Virunga closed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, the park faced significant losses in revenue. The Fund will support the park’s conservation efforts and its Rangers.