Leonardo DiCaprio: Oscar-winning actor, longtime Hollywood hottie, environmental activist...arsonist benefactor?
On Friday, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro accused the star of financing fires being set in the Amazon rainforest, without presenting any evidence, Reuters reported, adding that the leader appeared to be commenting on social media postings that claimed that the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) had paid for images taken by volunteer firefighters that it then used to solicit donations, including a $500,000 contribution made by DiCaprio.
"This Leonardo DiCaprio is a cool guy, right? Giving money to torch the Amazon," Bolsonaro told reporters in front of the presidential residence.
The actor, whose organization earlier this year pledged funds to save the Amazon, denied the allegation from the right-wing leader, whose comments mark his latest attempt to cast blame for the forest fires in the world's largest tropical rainforest.
"At this time of crisis for the Amazon, I support the people of Brazil working to save their natural and cultural heritage," the actor said in a statement on Instagram on Saturday. "They are an amazing, moving and humbling example of the commitment and passion needed to save the environment. The future of these irreplaceable ecosystems is at stake and I am proud to stand with the groups protecting them. While worthy of support, we did not fund the organizations targeted."
"I remain committed to supporting the Brazilian indigenous communities, local governments, scientists, educators and general public who are working tirelessly to secure the Amazon for the future of all Brazilians," he added.
The WWF denied receiving a donation from DiCaprio or obtaining photos from the firefighters.
DiCaprio, who often calls for action against climate change, has occasionally posted on social media the Amazon fires, which have destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres of rainforest land across Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay, including earlier this week.
In August, his Earth Alliance organization formed an emergency Amazon Forest Fund and pledged $5 million "to focus critical resources for indigenous communities and other local partners working to protect the life-sustaining biodiversity of the Amazon against the surge of fires currently burning across the region."
"100 percent of donations will go to partners who are working on the ground to protect the Amazon," the group said at the time.