Leonardo DiCaprio's Earth Alliance gives $1 million to Aussie Ark wildlife sanctuary at Barrington Tops

Activist: Actor Leonardo DiCaprio and former US president Barack Obama in Before the Flood. DiCaprio is helping a Barrington Tops sanctuary.
Activist: Actor Leonardo DiCaprio and former US president Barack Obama in Before the Flood. DiCaprio is helping a Barrington Tops sanctuary.

SUPERSTAR Leonardo DiCaprio has pledged $1 million to Barrington Tops wildlife sanctuary Aussie Ark, following the devastating bushfires in Australia.

The money will go towards the sanctuary's wildlife recovery programs.

Aussie Ark president Tim Faulkner said the high-profile donation would help "put our region on the map".

Mr Faulkner, who is also the Australian Reptile Park general manager, said the money would help the wildlife sanctuary expand at a time when many native species were threatened and facing extinction.

The money is coming through DiCaprio's Earth Alliance.

The Oscar-winning actor runs the alliance with Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

She has a net worth of about $22 billion. DiCaprio is worth $260 million.

DiCaprio's environmental activism has drawn much attention to ecological destruction and the "urgent threat" of climate change.

While many celebrities use social media to promote themselves and their image, DiCaprio uses his channels to inform his followers about environmental issues.

He's been promoting the work of Aussie Ark on Instagram, alongside other issues like deforestation in the Amazon, melting glaciers, rising temperatures around the world including in Antarctica, the plight of koalas and the threats that climate change pose to humans.

"Aussie Ark has committed to doubling its species recovery projects [for brush-tailed rock wallabies]," DiCaprio said on Instagram.

"You can help Aussie Ark by donating."

BITE CLUB: A pair of Tasmanian Devils at Aussie Ark's sanctuary.

BITE CLUB: A pair of Tasmanian Devils at Aussie Ark's sanctuary.

In another recent post, DiCaprio said: "Australia has the worst mammal extinction rate on Earth, and the country is among the worst seven countries worldwide for biodiversity loss. Australian conservation efforts need a radical overhaul."

Earth Alliance has committed $3 million to the Australia Wildlife Fund, which is managed by Global Wildlife Conservation.

Mr Faulkner said $1 million of that money had been pledged to Aussie Ark.

It was Mr Faulkner's relationship with Global Wildlife Conservation president Don Church and chief executive Wes Sechrest that led to DiCaprio's donation.

"They're here twice annually," he said, adding that DiCaprio hasn't visited Barrington Tops but he hopes he will one day.

Mr Faulkner said the $1 million would go towards expanding the Barrington wildlife sanctuary.

Aussie Ark provides predator-proof sanctuaries for threatened species such as the Tasmanian devil, eastern quoll, long-nosed potoroo and brush-tailed rock wallaby. It's also planning a koala sanctuary. Mr Faulkner aims to raise $15 million for further expansion.

"All up in the Barringtons, we've got 2000 hectares. We're well on the way to acquiring another 7000 hectares," he said.

"If we've got $15 million in total, we can protect 20,000 hectares at Barrington."

As well as the bigger donations, Mr Faulkner said: "We've had wonderful support from the Australian community. That's really valued and it adds up to a big amount. We need more Aussies to step up and corporate, government, philanthropic and private groups."

Anyone can donate through aussieark.org or aussieark.org.au.

Wildlife Champion: Aussie Ark president Tim Faulkner. "We're expanding the sanctuary," he said.

Wildlife Champion: Aussie Ark president Tim Faulkner. "We're expanding the sanctuary," he said.