Leonardo DiCaprio Named Global Ambassador for International Fund for Animal Welfare

The actor plans to support various animal conservation issues, but will begin his new role with the "Elephants, Never Forget" campaign.

Leonardo DiCaprio will probably be seen frequently in Hollywood during the 2012 Oscar season, due to his Oscar-buzzed role as J. Edgar Hoover, the controversial FBI founder, in the Warner Bros film J. Edgar.

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But the actor/activist has just taken on another high profile role.

It was announced today that DiCaprio is now the global ambassador for the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s Animal Action campaign -- “Elephants, Never Forget” -- designed to shut down the slaughter to near extinction of these animals caused by the black market international ivory trade, despite the ivory ban established 1989.

“Authorities in 85 countries have seized almost 400 tons of ivory on the black market since the 1989 ivory trade ban," says DiCaprio. "In the past century, the number of elephants in the wild has declined by 50 percent. Their disappearance could devastate ecosystems and have a lasting impact on the biodiversity of our planet.”

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The ivory trade also fuels ongoing conflict and strife around the world.

“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,” DiCaprio explains, adding "Authorities in 85 countries have seized almost 400 tons of ivory on the black market since the 1989 ivory trade ban.”

The IFAW action is part of the organization's annual international education program that strives to reach seven million teachers, students and their families in over 15 countries. DiCaprio feels that education on this issue is essential to stopping the demand and the supply. "Most people still have no idea that elephants are killed for their ivory tusks.”

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This is not a one species appearance for DiCaprio. There will be sequel campaigns in which DiCaprio will highlight a different animal conservation issue for IFAW each year.

For more info on the elephant slaughter, the illegal ivory trade and how you can help, go to IFAW