Jared Leto recently visited South Africa, but it wasn’t to film a movie or put on a Thirty Seconds to Mars concert. The Oscar-winning actor is becoming a World Wildlife Fund Global Ambassador and kicked off his new gig by saving some rhinos.
Leto helped tag and collar southern white rhinos who will be taken from places known for poaching over to safer areas. As something extra cute, he gave wildlife rangers cards that American kids had written, thanking them for protecting the animals.
“My latest adventure in South Africa was as mind-blowing as always,” said Leto, his gorgeous man-bun flapping in the wind. “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.”
This last year, 1,215 rhinos were illegally hunted in South Africa, the highest number we’ve seen in decades. Since these animals are already in serious danger, Leto will be using his Ambassadorship to spread awareness and get more people involved. Rhinos are typically killed for their horns because of a mistaken belief that horns give health benefits. Horns can also be seen as signs of good social stature – for the people who get the horns, not the rhinos who originally had them.
Rhinos aren’t the only species Leto will be helping. He’s taking on illegal wildlife trade of elephants, tigers and other endangered species, wanting to cut back on the poaching and raise these species’ numbers.
“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,” Jared said. “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."