Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise has been watching the climate world since 2009. What she sees isn't pretty.

Der Spiegel Skewers the World Wildlife Fund

A splendid and disturbing investigative feature in Der Spiegel explains why the WWF doesn’t deserve your charitable donations.

Screen capture from the Der Spiegel article. Click to jump to the article

Yesterday the German news magazine Der Spiegel ran an investigative feature article on the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

This is not the sort of thing one usually finds in the mainstream media, especially not in Germany. For the average member of the public, making informed decisions about which organizations deserve one’s charitable donations is difficult. This article is chock-a-block with the sort of information we all deserve to know.

Here are some direct quotes to whet your appetite:

  • “Over the years, the WWF has received a total of $120 million from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).”
  • “Companies pay seven-figure fees for the privilege of using the [WWF] logo [on their products].”
  • “In Sumatra, members of a tribal group reported how troops hired by WWF partner Wilmar had destroyed their houses…”
  • “The Dutch section of WWF helped pay for Greenpeace’s flagship, the Rainbow Warrior.”
  • “Experts estimate that in Africa alone, conservation efforts have created 14 million ‘conservation refugees’…”
  • “Ruswantu takes affluent eco-tourists on tours of the park on the backs of tamed elephants. The area is off-limits for the locals…’The WWF is in charge here…'”
  • “‘Sustainable palm oil, as the WWF promises with its RSPO certificates, is really nonexistent,’ [a former WWF employee] says.”
  • “[leftist activist target] Monsanto…has donated $100,000 to the WWF over the years…”
  • “The [German branch of the WWF] even paid the travel expenses for representatives of the Argentine branch of the WWF, which was long run by a man with ties to the former military junta…”

During the 1980s the WWF reportedly funded helicopter death squads that exterminated liquidated summarily executed dozens of local poachers in a national park in Zimbabwe. The inescapable conclusion, therefore, is that while the WWF takes extreme measures to prevent poor, indigenous locals from hunting African wildlife, if you’re a wealthy foreigner different rules apply. Says the magazine:

Spanish King Juan Carlos, for example, was recently in the news after he broke his hip while hunting elephants in Botswana. Juan Carlos is the honorary president of WWF Spain, which many find outrageous. In Namibia alone, the WWF has permitted trophy hunting in 38 conservation areas.

Rich Europeans or Americans are allowed to behave as if the colonial period had never ended. They are allowed to shoot elephants, buffalo, leopards, lions, giraffes and zebras…A WWF spokesman defends this practice, saying that quotas have been established, and that the proceeds from this “regulated hunting” can contribute to conservation.

The following passage, however, is perhaps the most interesting of all. At WWF world headquarters near Geneva, the article tells us,

plaques there commemorate the people to whom the organization owes a great debt: the “Members of The 1001.” This elite group of undisclosed financiers was created in 1971 to provide financial backing for the organization.

To this day, the WWF does not like to disclose the names of the donors, probably because some of those appearing on the club’s list would not exactly help their image – people like arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi and former Zairian dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

Then-WWF President Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands was able to recruit oil multinational Shell as his first major sponsor. In 1967, thousands of birds died after a tanker accident off the coast of France, and yet the WWF forbade all criticism. That could “jeopardize” future efforts to secure donations from certain industrial sectors, WWF officials said during a board meeting.

I urge you to read the whole thing here. It’s well worth your time.

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The 3-screen Der Spiegel article is backed up here, here, and here.

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