I once donated to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), as I’m sure many others have, because who can resist those commercials urging us to symbolically adopt a snow leopard with the voiceover that says they need our help, its cute panda logo and its mission to “conserve nature and ecological processes by preserving biodiversity, ensuring sustainable use of natural resources and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful use of resources and energy.”
But, after the recent allegations made by BuzzFeed News, which conducted a year-long investigation that revealed the WWF’s field staff have signed off on a proposal to kill trespassers, provided paramilitary forces with salaries, training and supplies, I’m ashamed to have given my dollars to them. The article, which contains imbedded links to documents that prove BuzzFeed’s assertion, follows the case of Shikharam Chaudry, who rangers believed helped his son bury a rhinoceros horn in his backyard. The rangers were unable to find the horn, but threw him in jail and beat him to death. Three park officials, who were funded by the WWF, were arrested and charged with murder. The WWF lobbied for the charges to disappeared, later hired one of the rangers to work for the charity and gave another an anti-poaching award. BuzzFeed News has since released two more articles claiming that WWF was warned years ago of the abuse and controversy of a new national park.
While the WWF claims it will be looking into the documents and interviews, U.S. lawmakers and even celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, who sits on the U.S. board of the charity, have called for a swift and transparent review.
While I, and I’m sure many, support efforts to stop poaching and wildlife trafficking, it’s extremely disgraceful for the WWF to do this at the hands of innocent civilians. According to the uncovered reports, those who are even suspected of poaching—although there may be zero evidence against them—have been jailed, beaten and killed. If these allegations are true, this charity is creating a military who can act as judge, jury and executioner. But even for those who are proven poachers, should this charity be taking on these roles as well? Should these poachers not face a jury, be found guilty and have to spend years in prison as punishment?
While I hate poachers as much as the next person, because, there is no reason whatsoever for animals to be killed for profit, the WWF should not take the money of unknowing civilians in the name of protecting one species to kill another.
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