The money will go towards the sanctuary’s wildlife recovery programs in Barrington Tops.
Superstar Leonardo DiCaprio has pledged $1 million to Barrington Tops wildlife sanctuary Aussie Ark, following the devastating bushfires in Australia.
(Story courtesy of Newcastle Herald 15 Feb 2020)
Aussie Ark president Tim Faulkner said the high profile donation would help “put our region on the map”.
The money is coming through DiCaprio’s Earth Alliance. The Oscar-winning actor runs the alliance with Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. She has a net worth of about $22 billion. DiCaprio is worth $260 million.
Earth Alliance has committed $3 million to the Australia Wildlife Fund, which is managed by Global Wildlife Conservation. Mr Faulkner said $1 million of that money had been pledged to Aussie Ark.
It was Mr Faulkner’s relationship with Global Wildlife Conservation president Don Church and chief executive Wes Sechrest that led to DiCaprio’s donation.
“They’re here twice annually,” he said, adding that DiCaprio hasn’t visited Barrington Tops but he hopes he will one day.
Mr Faulkner said the $1 million would go towards expanding the Barrington wildlife sanctuary.
Aussie Ark provides predator-proof sanctuaries for threatened species such as the Tasmanian devil, eastern quoll, long-nosed potoroo and brush-tailed rock wallaby. It’s also planning a koala sanctuary. Mr Faulkner aims to raise $15 million for further expansion.
“All up in the Barringtons, we’ve got 2000 hectares. We’re well on the way to acquiring another 7000 hectares,” he said.
“If we’ve got $15 million in total, we can protect 20,000 hectares at Barrington.”
Mr Faulkner, who is also the Australian Reptile Park general manager, said the money would help the wildlife sanctuary expand at a time when many native species were threatened and facing extinction.
DiCaprio’s environmental activism has drawn much attention to ecological destruction and the “urgent threat” of climate change.
While many celebrities use social media to promote themselves and their image, DiCaprio uses his channels to inform his followers about environmental issues.
He’s been promoting the work of Aussie Ark on Instagram, alongside other issues like deforestation in the Amazon, melting glaciers, rising temperatures around the world including in Antarctica, the plight of koalas and the threats that climate change pose to humans.
“Aussie Ark has committed to doubling its species recovery projects [for brush-tailed rock wallabies],” DiCaprio said on Instagram.
“You can help Aussie Ark by donating.”
In another recent post, DiCaprio said: “Australia has the worst mammal extinction rate on Earth, and the country is among the worst seven countries worldwide for biodiversity loss. Australian conservation efforts need a radical overhaul.”