Virunga on Netflix: Leonardo DiCaprio hopes to save 'one of the last pristine places on Earth' with moving gorilla documentary

Actor executive produced the feature-length documentary

Virunga debuts on Netflix today, a powerful and urgent documentary shedding light on the fragile future of a national park in the Congo that that is home to the last of the mountain gorillas.

It centres on a motley crew of park rangers made up of an ex-child soldier, a caretaker of orphan gorillas and a Belgian conservationist who are trying to protect the UNESCO heritage site from not only poachers and armed militia but oil corporations interested in the park's resources.

Netflix's originals have mostly been scripted TV shows up to now, so why did executive producer and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio choose the streaming service to get this story out there?

"Netflix has really in a lot of ways brought the modern documentary to a massive audience," he told The Independent.

"Documentaries have limited runs in theatres and face competition from feature films. Netflix in an overwhelming way is seen by more people than any other network in documentary terms so I've long been wanting to create a relationship with them.

"I really think we're at a pivotal point in human history, there's destruction going on not only in Africa but in Asia, Brazil and more, where corporate interests are now infiltrating these last pristine places on Earth.

"A lot of people think that multi-trillion dollar industries cannot be fought, but with enough backlash from the media and the public these places can be saved.

"So Netflix to me is the perfect way to help establish a network of worldwide outreach - I not only feel it's my obligation to help this species but it's something that's incredibly exciting to me because transformation can happen."

Virunga, streaming now on Netflix, was directed by Orlando von Einsiedel and has already picked up a string of awards and a nomination at Tribeca Film Festival.