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Leonardo DiCaprio Targets Elephant Poachers

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While he is perhaps most famous for his acting, Leonardo DiCaprio has also made a name for himself as an activist.

This week, DiCaprio announced that he will be leading a new International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) campaign to protect the world's elephant populations, reports Mother Nature Network.

The initiative, called "Elephants, Never Forget," focuses on the plight of African elephants since the ivory trade was banned over 20 years ago.

With DiCaprio as the campaign's global ambassador, IFAW hopes to raise awareness of the lax oversight and black market ivory trade which "has led to the prospect of extinction for the species in several African countries," according to a press release.

"Elephants, Never Forget" is part of an annual educational program which reaches out to seven million people in 15 countries, according to Zee News.

DiCaprio said, “Elephants are killed by poachers so their tusks can be traded for weapons and drugs by international criminal organizations before becoming trinkets and jewelry for consumers. Authorities in 85 countries have seized almost 400 tons of ivory on the black market since the 1989 ivory trade ban.”

According to IFAW, wild elephant populations have diminished by 50 percent in the past century. The IUCN Red List currently lists African elephants as vulnerable and Asian elephants as endangered.

The Wall Street Journal reported that an increased demand in China has led to a 100 percent price increase of ivory in the past three years.

Be sure to check out photos of artistic elephants in honor of last month's Elephant Appreciation Day.

Elephants aren't the first animal to garner support from DiCaprio. Last year, he was part of a 13 nation summit in Russia dedicated to saving tigers. International support for tigers can't come soon enough. The worldwide tiger population has reportedly dropped to 3,200 from 100,000 a century ago. In addition to personally donating one million dollars to help tigers, DiCaprio earned praise from Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Putin called DiCaprio "a real man" for traveling to Russia despite a near emergency with his plane.

For more information about "Elephants, Never Forget," visit the IFAW website.

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