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Leonardo DiCaprio donates $1 million to help save tigers after reaching Russia following plane nightmare

11/23/2010 by Corinne Heller

Leonardo DiCaprio has donated $1 million to the World Wildlife Fund to help tiger conservation efforts after finally reaching Russia following a scary plane experience.

The 36-year-old star of films such as "Titanic" and "Inception" was among the passengers of a Delta Air Lines plane that was bound for Moscow and was forced to make an emergency landing in New York on Sunday.

DiCaprio pledged his support to the WWF at the Tiger Summit, a meeting of world leaders that deals with tiger extinction and is headed by Russian president Vladmir Putin, in the city of St. Petersburg. The actor has been working with the group on its Save Tigers Now campaign.

"Illegal poaching of tigers for their parts and massive habitat loss due to palm oil, timber and paper production are driving this species to extinction," the WWF quoted DiCaprio as saying. "If we don't take action now, one of the most iconic animals on our planet could be gone in just a few decades. By saving tigers, we can also protect some of our last remaining ancient forests and improve the lives of indigenous communities."

The number of tigers in Asia has dropped from 100,000 at the beginning of the last century to as few as 3,200 today, the WWF said in a statement, adding that the 13 countries where tigers still exist are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.

The Boeing 767 airplane, which had carried DiCaprio and some 200 people on board, had been forced to turn around on Sunday and land at New York's JFK International Airport after one of its engines shut down. There were no reports of injuries.

DiCaprio's spokesperson told OnTheRedCarpet.com in a statement on Monday that the actor "wishes to commend the actions of the pilot and flight crew in bringing the plane to a safe landing. DiCaprio signed autographs for members of the crew and passengers after the plane landed safely back in New York, a source close to the star had said.

(Copyright ©2014 OnTheRedCarpet.com. All Rights Reserved.)
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