In this role, Leto will work with WWF to raise awareness of the most urgent, critical issues facing our planet.
Leto recently traveled to South Africa with WWF to learn first-hand about wildlife crime and specifically the rhino poaching crisis and WWF’s efforts to save rhino populations on two continents.
“My latest adventure in South Africa was as mind-blowing as always,” Leto said. "Being that close to majestic creatures like rhinos and elephants reminds me of the deep connection and important responsibility we have to protect and shepherd these fragile species and their habitats.
“I’m committed and passionate about doing all I can to help ensure that these endangered animals survive, and will continue to encourage others to get into action as well. We must join together and protect these powerful yet extremely vulnerable animals from all the senseless slaughter and double our efforts to restore their populations across Africa and Asia. It can and—with a focused global effort—will be done. I’m honored to join with WWF and the global conservation community and do my part. I hope you will too.”
While in South Africa, Leto joined WWF Black Rhino Range Expansion Project veterinarian Dr. Jacques Flamand and other biologists and scientists with the andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve to tag and collar three southern white rhinos as part of a translocation program. Later this year, those three rhinos and roughly 100 others will be moved from high poaching areas to undisclosed locations to help with breeding efforts.
During his trip, Leto presented wildlife rangers with notecards written by children from across the United States with words of thanks and encouragement for their brave role in safeguarding wildlife.
WWF works to protect existing rhino populations and their habitat, partners with communities and governments to create policies that encourage local people to protect rhinos, and leads campaigns in Asia to reduce demand for rhino horn. As a result, several rhino species have begun to recover, including both white and black rhino numbers in South Africa.
"The world needs to wake up to the fact that we’re losing rhinos, elephants and other critically important species, said Carter Roberts, president and CEO of WWF-US. “Their recovery lies in our hands. We need strong voices that can mobilize the efforts of many and I’m grateful to Jared Leto for lending his reputation and passion to the cause.”