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Mr Di Caprio, who has pledged $5m (£3.8m) to try and heal the damage caused by the Amazon fires, has denied Mr Bolsonaro’s claim. Mr Bolsonaro has placed the responsibility for the devastating fires that engulfed the Amazon at the feet of environmentalist groups. The conspiracy theory that he is promoting is that environmentalist NGO’s, who are trying to combat the destruction of the Amazon, are secretly causing fires there in the hope of gaining more funding.

His latest accusation came during brief remarks at the presidential residence on Friday.

He said: “This Leonardo DiCaprio is a cool guy, right?

“Giving money to torch the Amazon.”

The Brazilian president has long dismissed the scientific consensus about climate scenarios as a hoax.

Di Caprio and Bolsonaro

Mr Di Caprio and Mr Bolsonaro (Image: GETTY)

Amazon fires

Amazon fires (Image: GETTY)

He campaigned on an explicit pledge to exploit the Amazon for the logging and agricultural industries.

The Amazon currently provides 20percent of the world’s oxygen and which climate scientists widely regard as the most valuable asset humanity possesses in our increasingly difficult battle to avoid climate catastrophes.

The US National Institute for Space Research documented that it “had detected 39,194 fires this year in the world’s largest rainforest, a 77percent increase from the same period in 2018”.

The latest comments from Mr Bolsonaro appear to arise from the arrest of four volunteer firefighters from northern Pará state on allegations they started fires to generate NGO donation.

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Amazon fires

Amazon fires (Image: GETTY)

He gave no evidence and did not elaborate, although the statement appeared to echo a live webcast he gave on Thursday that revolved around the environmental organisation, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and allegations, denied by the WWF, that it had paid for images taken by the arrested firefighters, who have since been released.

Mr Bolsonaro said: “So what did the NGO do?

“What is the easiest thing?

“Set fire to the forest.


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Amazon fires

Amazon fires (Image: GETTY)

Amazon fires

Amazon fires (Image: GETTY)

“Take pictures, make a video.

“WWF makes a campaign against Brazil, it contacts Leonardo DiCaprio, he donates $500,000 (£38,6772)

“A part of that went to the people that were setting fires.

“Leonardo DiCaprio, you are contributing to the fire in the Amazon, that won’t do.”

But Mr Bolsonaro appointed Rocardo Salles as his environmental minister, which makes him the custodian of the Amazon “the lungs of the world”.

Mr Salles ran for federal Congress with a political advertisement that displayed bullets from a rifle as his solution for environmental activists, indigenous tribes impeding the destruction of their land, and “leftists”.

Bolsonaro’s attack on the Hollywood actor sparked ridicule and anger among opposition politicians and activists.

Amazon fires

Amazon fires (Image: GETTY)

“How desperate,” tweeted Randolfe Rodrigues, a senator from the Amazon state of Amapá. “Our negligent and incompetent president – responsible for an environmental dismantling unprecedented in our country – wants to blame DiCaprio but won’t blame his own administration which is incapable of taking a single step without destroying something.”

Ivan Valente, an opposition congressman, tweeted: “Bolsonaro’s delirium knows no bounds. Accusing Leonardo DiCaprio of paying for the Amazon to be ‘torched’ is pathetic. But their deliberate lies are also revealing.”

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