DiCaprio visits Indonesian jungle to support environmentalists

AFP Yahoo News 30 Mar 16;

Jakarta (AFP) - Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio has visited the Indonesian jungle to help protect a biodiverse area from deforestation.

Fresh from clinching his long-awaited first Oscar last month, DiCaprio spent the weekend in the Leuser ecosystem, on Indonesia's main western island of Sumatra.

The actor, an ardent supporter of environmental causes, was pictured accompanied by local environmentalists and flanked by two critically endangered Sumatran elephants.

The elephants are among a dizzying array of rare animals who live in Leuser's dense rainforests.

DiCaprio said on his Instagram account that his foundation, which supports numerous environmental projects, was backing local groups to establish a "mega-fauna sanctuary" in the area.

He described the area as "the last place on Earth where Sumatran orangutans, tigers, rhinos and elephants coexist in the wild".

Local green activist Farwiza Fahan, who met DiCaprio on his visit, said the sanctuary was aimed at giving more protection to the area, but the plan was still in the early stages.

Like much of Indonesia's rainforests, the area is under threat from the aggressive expansion of palm oil and pulp and paper plantations, while endangered animals are targeted by poachers and locals who view them as pests.

But the area faces an additional threat after authorities in the province of Aceh -- which includes much of the Leuser ecosystem -- pushed through a plan to open up new swathes of virgin forest for commercial exploitation and lay roads.

The central government in Jakarta, which must approve such locally made plans, has asked Aceh to revise it, but activists claim that local authorities are pushing ahead with it regardless.

DiCaprio, who attended the COP21 climate change talks in Paris last year, has been raising the alarm on global warming since 1998 when he founded the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.

He won the best actor Oscar for his role in the "The Revenant", a film about a 19th century fur trapper filmed under extreme winter conditions in Canada and Argentina.

Actor and Environmental Activist Leonardo DiCaprio Visits Aceh
Ratri M Siniwi Jakarta Globe 30 Mar 16;

Banda Aceh. Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio made a secret visit to Mount Leuser National Park in southeast Aceh on Sunday (27/3).

Along with fellow actors Adrien Brody and Fisher Stevens, the budding environmental activist visited the park’s research facility in Ketambe, where the trio had close encounters with Sumatran orangutans and elephants.

DiCaprio has taken a personal interest in conserving the forests of the Bukit Tiga Puluh National Park through his Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. The national park faces constant threats from deforestation, mainly driven by palm oil field expansion.

“We need local, national and international involvement to protect Mount Leuser National Park. The park is one of the oldest national parks in Indonesia and was declared a Biosphere Reserve by Unesco in 1981,” said Andi Basrul, who runs Mount Leuser National Park.

The national park is also Unesco World Heritage Site and a natural habitat for some critically endangered species, including the Sumatran orangutans, Sumatran tigers, Sumatran elephants and Sumatran rhinoceros.

DiCaprio recently spread the message through his Twitter account, urging participation to boost the conservation efforts.

Sumatra’s unique ecosystem and biodiversity have attracted many activists and award-winning celebrities. As part of an environmental documentary made three years ago, actor Harrison Ford conducted a hard-hitting interview with Indonesia's forestry minister, urging him to take action on illegal logging activities in Sumatra and to adopt more sustainable forestry practices.

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