Drained from filming three intense movies in two years, Leonardo DiCaprio last month revealed that he was taking a long break from acting. Beyond the rest and relaxation, the 38-year-old expressed interest in expanding his philanthropic passions. 

“I would like to improve the world a bit,” he said. “I will fly around the world doing good for the environment.”

This morning (Feb. 18), DiCaprio put those words into action by helping the World Wildlife Fun launch its new initiative titled "Hands Off My Parts." The campaign is a week-long effort tied to WWF’s Stop Wildlife Crime campaign to raise awareness and mobilize support to end the illegal trade of wildlife.

In a personal email to WWF supporters, celebrities and others, DiCaprio wrote: 

“Illegal wildlife trade is the most urgent threat facing species like tigers, rhinos and elephants. These animals are being killed every day to feed an escalating demand for their body parts. Whole populations are at risk of being wiped out if we don’t take immediate action to shut down this illicit trade. As a key step, I am joining WWF and others calling on Thailand’s government to show leadership on elephant conservation by shutting down its ivory market before the country hosts a meeting of 177 nations on wildlife trade in March 2013.”

Due to a legal loophole that permits the sale of ivory from the country's domesticated elephants, Thailand is home to the largest unregulated ivory market in the world. Criminals take advantage of the open market to sell illegally poached ivory from Africa, further devastating already threatened populations of rhinos and elephants.

"With knowledge comes the imperative to act,” said Carter Roberts, president & CEO of WWF. “This story needs to be told. We're grateful to Leonardo DiCaprio and others for being the voice for animals who cannot speak for themselves.”

To sign the petition calling on Thailand to end its ivory trade once and for all, hit the official campaign page here

Related on MNN: DiCaprio donates $1M for tiger conservation

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Leonardo DiCaprio launches fight against wildlife crime
Actor teams with the World Wildlife Fund to promote “Hands Off My Parts” initiative.