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Video: When Vlad met Leo...

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin welcomes Leonardo Di Caprio to St Petersburg, and hails actor as a ‘real man’.

LEONARDO DI CAPRIO HAS BEEN warmly praised by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin after he suffered a series of dramatic flights to attend a tiger conservation forum.

The actor also donated $1m to the World Wildlife Fund for tiger conservation.

Di Caprio travelled from the US to St Petersburg to attend a meeting at which 13 international officials signed up to a programme to save tigers in their countries from extinction.

He was apparently on board a Delta flight which had to return to New York after it caught fire on Sunday.

He then continued the journey on a private jet, which was forced to land in Finland before reaching its Russian destination as it was running out of fuel.

Putin was overseeing the “tiger forum”. The WWF’s senior vice-president Ginette Hemley said the forum had delivered what they had hoped for and marked a “turning point in our efforts to save one of the world’s best-loved species”.

The WWF says it has pledged to raise $85m for tiger conservation over the coming five years, saying that tigers are among the most threatened species on Earth.

Putin had warm words for the star’s support of conservation, saying in his speech at the event:

Mr Di Caprio not just came to us, but simply burst through the front line. Excuse me if I may, but in our country, people usually say, that is what we call a real man.

The actor returned the praise, saying Russia was an example of what can result from a good tiger conservation programme, the Voice of Russia reports. He said he’s heard that there were less than 40 tigers in the wild in Russia in the 1940s, but now there are over 500.