London: Hollywood superstar Leonardo DiCaprio is set to lead an International Fund for Animal Welfare campaign to save elephants and stop the international ivory trade.
The annual Animal Action campaign organised by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) focuses on the continuing threats to elephants, after the international ban on ivory trade was implemented 20 years back.
DiCaprio, 36, is the global ambassador for the campaign, which also happens to be a part of an annual education programme reaching out to seven million teachers, students and families in 15 countries.
The IFAW has revealed that the population of elephants began to recover after the ban was put into effect, but a failure to tackle poaching in recent years has affected the animal’s abundance in several African countries, and the numbers of the world’s largest land animal were reduced to half since the last century.
“Many people around the world still have no idea that elephants are killed for their ivory tusks, and that’s why public education is so important,” the Daily Express quoted the ‘Titanic’ actor as saying.
“There were 1.3 million elephants in 1979; rampant poaching and other factors have reduced that by more than half to an estimated 500,000,” he said.
“Authorities in 85 countries have seized almost 400 tonnes of ivory on the black market since the 1989 ivory trade ban,” the actor added.
“We are honoured to have Leonardo’s support for our Animal Action campaign to stem the ivory trade. With his help, we hope to create a groundswell for elephant protection that can’t be ignored,” IFAW president Fred O’Regan said.