Leonardo DiCaprio launches $2 million fund to protect Africa’s heritage gorilla park | Totally Vegan Buzz
Leonardo DiCaprio launches $2 million fund to protect Africa’s heritage gorilla park
Image: Andrea Raffin / shutterstock.com (L) and Virunga National Park (R)

The actor has helped raise $2 million in funds to protect the Virunga National Park and its endangered mountain gorillas.

Leonardo DiCaprio is raising funds for the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has contributed a part of the initial $2m (£1.65m) funding through Earth Alliance, a group co-founded by the actor.

Organizations including Emerson Collective, Global Wildlife Conservation and the European Commission have also contributed towards the fund.

Virunga Fund

According to the actor, the park, which is also a Unesco World Heritage site, is in urgent needs of funds after facing a “series of unprecedented threats”, which include the ongoing pandemic and a recent attack on its rangers.

The park has faced a significant loss of revenue after it closed its tourist activities in March in light of Ebola and COVID-19.

The Virunga Fund aims to deliver essential disease prevention efforts, protect indigenous species from the pandemic and support law enforcement efforts and families of the fallen rangers.

In an Instagram post, the actor wrote: “Virunga National Park is one of the most biologically diverse areas on the planet and… the future of Virunga hangs in the balance as it deals with the impacts of Ebola and COVID-19, and now this recent attack.

“Today, with the help of @EarthAlliance, @EmersonCollective and @Global_Wildlife_Conservation, along with support from @europeaid and @VirungaNationalPark, we announced the Virunga Fund, with $2 million in seed funding.

“If you can, please join me in supporting the fund today.”

View this post on Instagram

Virunga National Park is one of the most biologically diverse areas on the planet and home to the critically endangered mountain gorilla. Three weeks ago, twelve park rangers and their driver tragically lost their lives protecting civilians from an armed attack by a militia group. The future of Virunga hangs in the balance as it deals with the impacts of Ebola and COVID-19, and now this recent attack. Today, with the help of @EarthAlliance, @EmersonCollective and @Global_Wildlife_Conservation, along with support from @europeaid and @VirungaNationalPark, we announced the Virunga Fund, with $2 million in seed funding. If you can, please join me in supporting the fund today. Please see the link in my bio.

A post shared by Leonardo DiCaprio (@leonardodicaprio) on

Endangered Gorillas

The park is home to mountain gorillas, a species whose future is once again endangered after being saved from the brink of extinction earlier. The World Wide Fund For Nature has warned that since mountain gorillas share 98% of their DNA with humans, they are most vulnerable to the current coronavirus. Scientists claim the health crisis could prove to be an “existential threat”   to the species’ survival.

View this post on Instagram

ANNOUNCEMENT: As a result of the rapidly unfolding situation regarding the global spread of COVID-19, Virunga National Park has today taken the difficult decision to temporarily close mountain gorilla tourism as of Monday 23rd March. In accordance, no new bookings for mountain gorilla treks will be accepted before Monday 1st June. The Park’s temporary closure of mountain gorilla tourism is being undertaken as a precautionary measure and is in line with the World Health Organization’s recommendation to restrict movement and limit social contact. For Virunga in particular, it has been taken following advice from scientific experts indicating that primates, including mountain gorillas, are likely susceptible to complications arising from the COVID-19 virus. As such, we must remain steadfast in safeguarding our population of this endangered species. We sincerely apologize to those visitors that have been impacted and are committed to reopening mountain gorilla tourism as soon as the situation allows. Our tourism team will be in touch with those individuals who have booked a trip during the period indicated above (23rd March-1st June). We will continue to provide updates on this situation as and when we have any further information. Thank you for your understanding and continued support during this challenging time. All press inquiries should be directed to [email protected] Press Release can be found in link in bio. #virunga #virunganationalpark #mountaingorilla #conservation #tourism #covid_19

A post shared by Virunga National Park (@virunganationalpark) on

‘Racing against the clock’

Last month, after the park closed its doors to the public, a militia group attacked the park’s headquarters in Rumangabo killing twelve rangers, a park driver, and four civilians.

Apart from the current pandemic, smuggling, wildlife poaching, illegal charcoal production and miscreant activities are some other issues that continue to plague the park.

National Virunga Park director Emmanuel De Merode said he had “never been more worried” about the future of the park in light of the latest events.

“We are on a timer and we only have about two months before all our critical functions for protecting the park can no longer be sustained,” he told UK Channel 4 news.

You can find out more about the Virunga Fund here.

Published by Totally Vegan Buzz Team

The Totally Vegan Buzz Team are a gang of extremely entertaining writers who also happen to be vegan. Together, they bring you all the vegan infotainment you need - trends, news, quizzes and more. Leave them a comment! They love it when you guys say hi...

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