Moscow: Hollywood icon Leonardo DiCaprio today pledged to donate USD 1 million for tiger conservation as part of the global efforts to double the population of endangered `big cat`.
"DiCaprio today committed USD 1 million to World Wildlife Fund for urgent tiger conservation efforts through his Fund at the California Community Foundation," the WWF statement released on the sidelines of Tiger Summit hosted by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in his hometown-St.Petersburg.
Addressing the Summir, Putin said, "The situation of the world`s last wild tigers is close to catastrophe."
Putin told the global tiger summit in St. Petersburg, the first ever meeting of world leaders devoted to saving the fabled beast.
DiCaprio, who shot to fame for his role in the 1997 blockbuster Titanic, arrived in St. Petersburg with a 24 hour delay because his plane was forced to land in New York`s JFK
airport shortly after take off on Sunday due to an engine malfunction.
"Illegal poaching of tigers for their parts and massive habitat loss due to palm oil, timber and paperproduction are driving this species to extinction.If we don`t take action now, one of the most iconic animals on our planet could be gone in just a few decades,"
DiCaprio said in a statement released by WWF.
The WWF plans to spend USD 85 million in the next five years on programs aimed at restoring the global tiger population.
The November 21-24 summit intends to approve a wide-ranging programme with the goal of doubling the world`s tiger population in the wild by 2022. The summit also will be seeking donor commitments to buttress expenditures by each of the country`s governments.
The participants of the four-day from 13 countries home to 3,200 wild tigers, including India, are discussing ways to double the tiger population a plan to double the animal`s population in 12 years, which will require up to USD 350 million from the international community.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is also attending special session of the forum. According to WWF experts a century ago, there were some 100,000 wild tigers across Asia and the
Russian Far East.
The wild cats have been steadily pushed to the verge of extinction by poaching, illegal trade, and habitat loss.
Experts attach importance to the presence of Chinese Premier Wen at the Tiger Summit, as his vast country`s traditions of consuming various tiger parts are encouraging poaching in neighbouring countries like India and Nepal.