The World Wide Fund, the global conservation charity, is doing more than simply driving awareness for the status of endangered animals — it’s also fully militarized.
BuzzFeed has uncovered details about how the WWF is funding paramilitary forces throughout the world that have allegedly tortured and killed people in nature parks, doing to poachers what no one else would.
The investigation found that in nature reserves where organized criminal gangs operate with impunity, the WWF spent much of the donations it received to fight back these entities through its partnerships with paramilitary organizations and even the creation of a so-called “Jungle Brigade” made up of former special forces operatives. These forces are alleged to be engaged in counterinsurgency operations against poachers who threaten the existence of wild animals.
BuzzFeed alleges that the WWF’s efforts included providing paramilitary forces with salaries, training, supplies, and in some cases, raids on villages participating in poaching. The publication uncovered evidence that indigenous people face violence at the hands of WWF operatives — claims that the WWF has since disavowed but is reviewing.
“We see it as our urgent responsibility to get to the bottom of the allegations Buzzfeed has made, and we recognize the importance of such scrutiny,” the charity said in a statement to BuzzFeed. “With this in mind, and while many of BuzzFeed’s assertions do not match our understanding of events, we have commissioned an independent review into the matters raised.”