Quantcast

Leonardo DiCaprio: We Must Save the Last Place on Earth Where Orangutans, Tigers, Rhinos and Elephants Coexist

Animals

Leonardo DiCaprio is using his clout to protect the struggling Leuser Ecosystem, a precious rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia that's under threat from industrial development for palm oil.

The Oscar winning actor and prominent environmental activist spent the weekend in the forest with fellow actors Adrien Brody and Fisher Stevens. According to The Jakarta Post, the crew toured Mount Leuser National Park on Sunday where they stopped by the park's research facility and met three Sumatran orangutans.

During his visit, DiCaprio also posed for a photo with two conservationists and two endangered elephants. The Revenant star posted the image onto his Instagram page and in the accompanying caption, he warned that the expansion of palm oil plantations are "fragmenting the forest and cutting off key elephant migratory corridors, making it more difficult for elephant families to find adequate sources of food and water."

He added that his philanthropic foundation, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, is supporting local partners to establish "a mega-fauna sanctuary in the Leuser Ecosystem."

The iconic Leuser Ecosystem, located in the provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra, consists of 6.5 million acres of tropical lowland rainforests, mountains and peatlands. As DiCaprio noted, the area is the last place on Earth where Sumatran orangutans, tigers, rhinos and elephants coexist in the wild. Without protection, these wildlife species are likely to be pushed to extinction.

On his Twitter account, DiCaprio posted the same photo from his trip and tweeted, "Stand with to ," referring to his support of Forest, Nature and Environment of Aceh (HAkA), a Sumatra-based NGO which works to protect and restore the priceless ecosystem.

In January, Aceh citizens filed a class action lawsuit against the Aceh provincial government's Spatial Land Use Plan, "which would open Leuser's forests up to clearing for logs, mining and oil palm," Mongabay reported.

DiCaprio's tweet also included a Change.org petition that urges Indonesian President Joko Widodo to cancel the spatial plan. Plaintiff Dahlan M. Isa wrote in the petition:

This fight has been going for years, and had involved many people and organizations in Aceh. The Governor and Aceh Parliament has been ignoring us. I wish that you could hear our aspiration and take action. What I wish is not a complicated matter, and has a clear legal standing. If you and your officials in The Ministry of Domestic Affairs can implement the Minister of Domestic Affairs Decree No. 650-441/2014, by canceling the Aceh Spatial Plan 2013-2033 that excluding the Leuser Ecosystem in to the National Strategic Area. The cancellation will become an important beginning for developing the spatial plan that inline with our interest, the people of Aceh.

Leuser is not only a biodiversity hotspot, it provides more than 4 million people with water, clean air and disaster mitigation. The ecosystem is also critical in helping to regulate the Earth's climate by absorbing and storing carbon in its lowland rainforests and peatlands.

The lawsuit and the movement to protect the Leuser Ecosystem is captured in this video:

DiCaprio's support of Leuser coincides with his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year, where he announced his foundation's $15 million commitment to environmental projects, including one that protects the Leuser Ecosystem from what DiCaprio described as the “invasive and destructive practices" of the palm oil industry.

DiCaprio also announced his foundation's support to organizations working to protect the Leuser Ecosystem, including San Francisco-based Rainforest Action Network.

“We are in a race against time to stop the extinction of the Sumatran orangutan, tiger, rhino and elephant," Rainforest Action Network's program director Ginger Cassady said in a statement. “Companies like PepsiCo that profit from conflict palm oil connected to the destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem must act immediately to break the link between the products they sell and rainforest destruction, labor abuses and climate pollution."

The organization noted in a press release that PepsiCo consumes more than 427,500 tonnes of palm oil per year and its consumption of this controversial commodity is on the rise.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Maryland to Become First State to Ban Bee-Killing Pesticides for Consumer Use

Japan Kills 333 Minke Whales Including 200 Pregnant Females

Photo Ark: One Man's Journey to Save the World's Most Endangered Species

Eastern Monarch Butterflies at Risk of Extinction

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

PhotoAlto / Laurence Mouton / Getty Images

By Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD

You've probably heard the buzz around collagen supplements and your skin by now. But is the hype really that promising? After all, research has pointed to both the benefits and downsides of collagen supplements — and for many beauty-conscious folk, collagen isn't vegan.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Marlene Cimons

Neil Pederson's introduction to tree rings came from a "sweet and kindly" college instructor, who nevertheless was "one of the most boring professors I'd ever experienced," Pederson said. "I swore tree rings off then and there." But they kept coming back to haunt him.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Aerial view of the explosion site of a chemical factory on March 22 in Yancheng, Jiangsu Province of China. Caixin Media / VCG / Getty Images)

At least 47 people have died in an explosion at a plant in Yancheng, China Thursday run by a chemical company with a history of environmental violations, Sky News reported.

Read More Show Less
A fishmonger in Elmina, a fishing port in the Central Region of Ghana. Environmental Justice Foundation

By Daisy Brickhill

Each morning, men living in fishing communities along Ghana's coastline push off in search of the day's catch. But when the boats come back to shore, it's the women who take over.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Sam Nickerson

Links between excess sugar in your diet and disease have been well-documented, but new research by Harvard's School of Public Health might make you even more wary of that next soda: it could increase your risk of an early death.

The study, published this week in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation, found that drinking one or two sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) each day — like sodas or sports drinks — increases risk of an early death by 14 percent.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Krystal B / Flickr

Tyson Foods is recalling approximately 69,093 pounds of frozen chicken strips because they may have been contaminated with pieces of metal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Thursday.

The affected products were fully-cooked "Buffalo Style" and "Crispy" chicken strips with a "use by" date of Nov. 30, 2019 and an establishment number of "P-7221" on the back of the package.

"FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers' freezers," the recall notice said. "Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase."

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Hrefna Palsdottir, MS

Cold cereals are an easy, convenient food.

Read More Show Less
A tractor spraying a field with pesticides in Orem, Utah. Aqua Mechanical / CC BY 2.0

Environmental exposure to pesticides, both before birth and during the first year of life, has been linked to an increased risk of developing autism spectrum disorder, according to the largest epidemiological study to date on the connection.

The study, published Wednesday in BMJ, found that pregnant women who lived within 2,000 meters (approximately 1.2 miles) of a highly-sprayed agricultural area in California had children who were 10 to 16 percent more likely to develop autism and 30 percent more likely to develop severe autism that impacted their intellectual ability. If the children were exposed to pesticides during their first year of life, the risk they would develop autism went up to 50 percent.

Read More Show Less