Leonardo DiCaprio is using his star power and big social media following to help spread the word of a critically endangered species.
The Oscar-winning actor posted a photo of himself posing alongside conservationists with two critically endangered Sumatran elephants to Facebook, this week. The post, which has garnered over 390,000 likes and close to 30,000 shares, explained how palm oil plantations are threatening the species' habitat in the Leuser Ecosystem -- an area of forest located in the provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra on the Indonesia island of Sumatra:
DiCaprio’s goal is to work alongside local partners to create a “mega-fauna sanctuary” so the endangered species can continue to find enough water and food to survive.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, Sumatran elephants shifted from the classification of “endangered” to “critically endangered” in 2012, due to Sumatra experiencing one of the highest rates of deforestation in the Asian elephant range, losing 70 percent of its habitat in just one generation. WWF cites palm oil plantations and pulp and paper industries in Sumatra’s Riau province as reasons for the deforestation.
HAkA, a local NGO, that DiCaprio advocates for in his post, also points out in the video below that the Aceh government wants to dismantle national spatial planning laws that currently protect the Leuser Ecosystem, which further threatens the elephant’s survival.
Yet DiCaprio -- whose eponymous foundation, recently donated $15 million in grants for environmental projects -- sums up the significance of conserving this habitat best in his post by simply pointing out that the Leuser Ecosystem is the “last place on Earth where Sumatran orangutans, tigers, rhinos and elephants coexist in the wild.”
And who wants to lose that?