WWF launches probe after BuzzFeed alleges it funded murderous guards in anti-poaching war

March 4, 2019

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has launched an investigation into allegations published by BuzzFeed News that the international charity funds and works with “paramilitary forces that have been accused of beating, torturing, sexually assaulting, and murdering scores of people.”

After conducting a yearlong investigation into WWF activities in six countries spanning Asia and Africa, BuzzFeed is alleging that the charity has funded brutality on indigenous people in its war against poaching.

“Villagers have been whipped with belts, attacked with machetes, beaten unconscious with bamboo sticks, sexually assaulted, shot, and murdered by WWF-supported anti-poaching units,” BuzzFeed reported.

“The charity’s field staff in Asia and Africa have organised anti-poaching missions with notoriously vicious shock troops, and signed off on a proposal to kill trespassers penned by a park director who presided over the killings of dozens of people,” the report continued. “WWF has provided paramilitary forces with salaries, training, and supplies including knives, night vision binoculars, riot gear, and batons and funded raids on villages.

“The charity has operated like a global spymaster, organizing, financing, and running dangerous and secretive networks of informants motivated by ‘fear’ and ‘revenge,’ including within indigenous communities, to provide park officials with intelligence all while publicly denying working with informants,” BuzzFeed reported.

The WWF said in a statement Monday that it had commissioned law firm Kingsley Napley to investigate the allegations, The Guardianreported.

“At the heart of WWF’s work are places and the people who live in them. Respect for human rights is at the core of our mission,” the statement said. “We take any allegation seriously and are commissioning an independent review to look into the cases raised in the story. We have asked BuzzFeed to share all evidence it has obtained to support these claims, to help inform and strengthen this review.

“WWF’s work relies on deep community support, engagement and inclusion,” the statement continued. “We have stringent policies designed to ensure both we and our partners are safeguarding the rights and well-being of indigenous people and local communities in the places we work. Any breach of these policies is unacceptable to us and, should the review uncover any, we are committed to taking swift action.”