The wildlife charity World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has been found to have committed human rights abuses while carrying out its nature conservation work by hiring guards who beat, tortured, sexually assaulted, and murdered people.
An investigation carried out by BuzzFeed found that WWF has been using paramilitary forces for the protection of species, providing them with high-tech equipment such as night vision binoculars and weapons including knives, batons and, in some places, assault rifles.
The news outlet obtained thousands of internal documents including emails discussing weapon purchases, interviews with victims and other memos as part of a year-long investigation which looked at WWF action in six countries.
The violent acts come as guards try to protect animals living in WWF-sponsored parks from poachers.
They beat him mercilessly and put saltwater in his nose and mouth.
Hira Chaudhary speaking about her husband who died after being beaten
One woman from Nepal, Hira Chaudhary, recounted how her husband was beaten “mercilessly” until his whole body was bruised because park rangers believed he and his son had buried a rhinoceros horn in their back garden, despite being unable to find the horn. After nine days of beatings, Chaudhary’s husband died and three park officials were arrested.
In 2017, an 11-year-old boy was tortured in front of his parents by park guards at a WWF-funded park in Cameroon. The family complained but say they did not receive a response from the charity.
Elsewhere, anti-poaching units sponsored by the charity have been accused of chastising villagers by beating them with belts and bamboo sticks, attacking them with machetes, shooting them and murdering them.
Independent Investigation Launched
WWF has said that it does not support the violent acts being carried out in an apparent effort to protect animals.
Human rights abuses are totally unacceptable and can never be justified in the name of conservation.
The charity added that they will be carrying out an independent review into the allegations, but insisted that “Buzzfeed’s assertions do not match our understanding of events”.
“We hope that an accurate picture of our conservation work on the ground, the challenges faced by all, in some of the most dangerous and hostile places on Earth, and the efforts being made to secure a future for people and planet can be reflected in the story,” they added.