Dark Green V: Elephants & Tigers

“… all two hundred delegates signed ‘Enemies of Conservation’” with one indigenous delegate rising to state that ‘… extractive industries, while still a serious threat to their welfare and cultural integrity, were no longer the main antagonist of indigenous cultures. Their new and biggest enemy, she said, was ‘conservation.’ ”

– Mark Dowie, Conservation Refugees:The Hundred-Year Conflict between Global Conservation and Native Peoples


The same process of land ethic revivalism so favoured by the Nazis is alive and well under the Prince. WWF in partnership with Heineken Breweries and other environmental affiliates have paid for studies which conclude that a balkanisation of Europe and a dramatic increase in the creation of nature reserves, conservation areas and game parks all over Western Europe. [1]The Heineken study, sponsored by Board Chairman A.H. Heineken, “… calls for redrawing the map of Europe into 75 mini-states, with populations of 10 million people at the most. Each mini-state would be ruled by a member of one of the existing European Royal Houses.” John Loudon, International President of WWF from 1977-1981 and ex-chairman of the board of Royal Dutch Shell was a member of the Heineken board. [2]

Heineken8

“For a Fresher World” 2011 advertising artwork for Heineken brand

A long-time supporter of WWF, Heineken is one of the greenest businesses existing today with stakeholder activities focusing on sustainability, green commerce and a host of other ecologically sound initiatives. The 1994 IUCN study called “Parks for Life: Action for Protected Areas in Europe,” followed the same pattern, namely the four-fold increase in setting aside land in Western Europe. All industrialisation would cease including any new infrastructure projects from water to rail links so that millions of hectares of land for parks could be allowed to flourish. [3] Wealthy landowners, families and 1001 Club members have been busily buying up land previously designated as parks and protected areas.

Author Mark Dowie believes this policy was the result of a concept as old as the colonial forefathers called “fortress conservation,” and which is present in almost every large-scale Anglo-American environmental initiative from Agenda 21 to the Wild lands Network: expressly no humans allowed access within these hallowed conservation zones. Even though WWF does not advocate forced relocation it nevertheless firmly believes in the concept of conservation areas off limits to humans. So, how does it get around the fact that there will undoubtedly be families who do not want to leave? [4]

Dowie draws our attention to the November 2004 Third Congress of the World Conservation Union in Bangkok, Thailand, convened to explore new ways to halt the loss of global diversity. In the audience was the only black person in sea of white faces comprising of environmentalists, conservationists and eco-bureaucrats. Martin Saning’o, the Maassai leader from Tanzania was next in line. When it was his turn to comment he described: “… how nomadic pastoralists once protected the vast range in eastern Africa that they have lost over the past century to conservation projects,” and further:

“‘Our ways of farming pollinated diverse seed species and maintained corridors between ecosystems,” he explains to an audience he knows to be schooled in Western ecological sciences. Yet, in the interest of a relatively new vogue in conservation called “biodiversity,”1 he tells them, more than one hundred thousand Maasai pastoralists have been displaced from their traditional homeland, which once ranged from what is now northern Kenya to the savannah grasslands of the Serengeti plains in northern Tanzania. They called it Maasailand. ‘We were the original conservationists,’ Saning’o tells the room full of shocked white faces. ‘Now you have made us enemies of conservation.’” [5]

As Dowie understates, drily, not exactly “… what six thousand wildlife biologists and conservation activists from over one hundred countries had traveled to Bangkok to hear.”

A 2004, United Nations meeting pushed for the passing of a resolution protecting the territorial and human rights of indigenous peoples. The UN Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples read in part, “Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories. No relocation shall take place without the free and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned and after agreement on just and fair compensation, and where possible, with the option to return.” Later in the year another meeting of the International Forum on Indigenous Mapping, “all two hundred delegates signed ‘Enemies of Conservation’” with one indigenous delegate rising to state that “… extractive industries, while still a serious threat to their welfare and cultural integrity, were no longer the main antagonist of indigenous cultures. Their new and biggest enemy, she said, was ‘conservation.’” [6]

02_wwf-horzWWF’s tasteful advertising campaign on species extinction with a nude black woman and man set against rainforest. I’m sure the Duke of Edinburgh would have got the joke…

Dowie describes other statements becoming increasingly common from the mouths of indigenous populations historically displaced from their homes and lands which now number in Africa alone, 14 million[7] “conservation refugees.” Since the colonial era: “conservation has become the number one threat to indigenous territories;” the “appropriation of common property for conservation,” or even at international and local meetings there was the ignoring “recommendations and interests” of indigenous members along with a general marginalization “… without opportunity to take the floor and express our views.” [8] It is no surprise that delegates have walked out of many conferences when the same neo-colonialism presented itself.

The author goes on to illustrate the experiences of transnational conservation with a wide range of indigenous peoples from the Miwok, Paiute, and Ahwahneechee of Yosemite Valley to the Pygmies of Uganda and Central Africa; the Karen of Thailand to the Adevasi of India; the Kayapo of Brazil and many others. The same story unfolds in each case though differing in response to the colonialism with: “the tendency of conservationists to ignore their basic rights, at times their very existence, in the course of protecting biological diversity.” [9]

As Dowie observes, it is the type of scientific conservationism that harks back to the “scientific technique” of Bertrand Russell and friends that we can see defining the rigid belief that humans cannot co-exist with nature – separation and segregation overseen by an Elite is the only way.

wwftigerSumatran Tiger|wwf.org

Sumatran tigers numbering no more than 500 in 2009 have been part of WWF fund-raising campaigns for many years. Many of the tigers are said to live in the Tesso Nilo, just a few hours from an WWF office. Jens Glüsing and Nils Klawitter of Der Spiegel take up the story:

Sunarto is a biologist who has long worked as a tiger researcher in the Tesso Nilo. But he has never seen a tiger there. ‘Tiger density is very low here, because of human economic activity,’ says Sunarto, who like some Indonesians goes by only one name. He also points out that there are still some woodland clearing concessions within the conservation area. To enable them to track down tigers, the WWF has provided the scientists with high-tech measuring equipment, including GPS devices, DNA analysis methods for tiger dung and 20 photo traps. During the last photography shoot, which lasted several weeks, the traps only photographed five tigers.

The WWF sees its work in Sumatra as an important achievement, arguing that the rainforest in the Tesso Nilo was successfully saved as a result of a ‘fire department approach.’ In reality, the conservation zone has grown while the forest inside has become smaller.

Companies like Asia Pacific Resources International, with which the WWF previously had a cooperative arrangement, cut down the virgin forest, says Sunarto. His colleague Ruswantu takes affluent eco-tourists on tours of the park on the backs of tamed elephants. The area is off-limits for the locals, and anti-poaching units funded by the Germans make sure that they stay out. ‘The WWF is in charge here, and that’s a problem,’ says Bahri, who owns a tiny shop and lives in a village near the entrance to the park. No one knows where the borders are, he says. ‘We used to have small fields of rubber trees, and suddenly we were no longer allowed to go there.’ ” [10]

The Der Spiegel investigation into WWF highlighted what many already knew: the organisation has overseen the dwindling of farms driven out of tribal lands and the decline of the species it appointed itself to protect. As one indigenous interviewee stated in the report, with the partnership between transnational corporations and the WWF, the organisation has helped to transform “… our world into plantations, monoculture and national parks.” [11] This also brings into relief the apparent contradiction between preserving wildlife and the predilection of aristocracy and Establishment for hunting animals. It seems they just can’t help themselves.

Back in 1961, the year that Prince Philip would inaugurate the creation of WWF to protect the endangered species of the world he was on a Royal tour of India with Queen Elizabeth. It was on this tour that the Prince decided he would blow away an Indian Tiger just for fun. Environmentalists, ecologists and just about everyone else didn’t share Prince Philip’s delight in bagging a 10ft tiger and no doubt confirming his manly virility to Lizzie.  Several tigers and a rare Indian rhino (a legacy given by British tea-planters) were killed for the Royal tour all recorded for posterity by the Queen. But Prince Phillip it seems wanted a bit more of the action. He later killed a female rhino which had got caught in the hunting party after many other members of the entourage had actively tried to assist the animal to leave. Her infant calf escaped though it is highly improbable it survived without its mother. With the launch of WWF months away the whole incident was covered up.

Killing for sport has continued to be a pleasure for royalty down through the ages. The only difference is in the past, they were not pretending to protect wildlife and preach on endangered species while taking great delight in blowing them out of the sky, skewering them with spears or hunting them to death. This sporting pleasure is endemic in so called “high society” and intimately tied up with rural traditions, though firmly divorced from anything approaching pest control or crop protection. The WWF finally had to dispense with King Juan Carlos I of Spain as The President of Honour of WWF after his blood-lust became a little too much of a PR problem. The King made no secret of his love affair for hunting big game in Africa and Eastern Europe. More recently, he took part in a hunt in Romania, killing a wolf and nine bears, one of which was pregnant.[12] A Russian official also claimed that a tame bear was plied with honey and vodka before being shot dead by the King. The bear (called Mitrofan) was killed during a private visit to Russia in 2006, though it was never proven that King Juan Carlos had pulled the trigger. [13]

royalhunt

The prelude to the launch of WWF. Prince Phillip (far left) The Queen is standing just behind the ex-tiger while Prince Jagat-Singh Has his foot on the animal’s head. The tiger was over 9ft long before it’s skin was sent to Windsor Castle as a trophy. Today – like so many animals championed by WWF – it is almost extinct.

Much like Prince Philip who is not one to let the hoi-polloi dictate his pleasures, in 2006 the Polish government allowed him to kill a European bison in Bialowieza forest, even when it is an endangered species. In April 2012, the patron of the WWF was still busy hunting elephants in Botswana.

Prince Charles, also deeply involved with environmental concerns and UK head of the WWF has followed in his father’s footsteps developing a love of fox hunting along with frequent bird shoots at Balmoral. His sons have not been spared the grand tradition either. Reports that William killed a young antelope with a 7ft spear on a trip to see the Maasai were unconfirmed but not surprising. William’s cultivated interest in shooting and stalking stopped his mother Diana from becoming president of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, though admittedly, hunting has always been a non-issue for the WWF.

Whether it is buying 250 pheasant, duck and partridge for his brother Harry to shoot at his 27th birthday on Queen Elizabeth’s Sandringham Estate, or boar-hunting on their rural estate in Cordoba, Spain, William is merely embracing normal pastime within the aristocracy, civil list and super-rich. In their last shoot the brothers bagged a staggering 740 partridges on a single day with help from “… Beaters and packs of dogs [who] were brought in to ensure that the princes did not return home without several ‘kills’ to their name.” [14]

Killing animals for sport under the guise of countryside traditions is nothing new and is an activity simultaneously bound up in ancient practices of survival where the animal is either venerated as a source of food or regarded as something to slaughter in a society bereft or meaning. Indigenous cultures – even peasantry in the not so distant past – took the death of their fellow creatures very seriously and afforded them the respect they deserved for providing them with nourishment. Living as we do in mostly urban environments and suburban “countryside” dotted with corporate outlets of factory farming the respect for the cycles of life and death doesn’t play much part in shooting or hunting animals since it is tied to the market place, where weekend shoots act as cathartic exercises in manliness and / or a break from the high-octane pressure of city rat-race. Deals can be done and echoes of the gentry can resurface.

Though dressed up in numerous rationalisations, the idea that hunting and killing animals for fun rather than survival in what we consider to be “civilised” societies seems to be a tradition we can eventually do without. But unless one has grown up in the “country” or is steeped in aristocratic customs one cannot possibly understand this essential “tradition” it seems … However, if we ever return to a full spectrum of true ecological awareness, self-sufficiency, respect for the natural world, a just economy and an inclusive social autonomy with a minimum of government interference, there may be a place in the world for hunting animals as part of a sacred survival, something indigenous peoples understood. Since how we treat animals in any given nation is fairly good reflection of how well we treat humans, then it maybe sometime before the view of animals as playthings or products may change.

Be that as it may, it’s all part of the normal life of so-called Royalty or “nobility” where the residues of feudalism strengthen the explicit understanding that elitism, class divisions and inherited privilege must be supported by the tax payer.

How else are we to keep the vast families and civil list in the manner to which they are accustomed?

bucket of green paint‘Green-washing’ © infrakshun

The issue is not about individual royals, rather it is the notion that we need such a structure of vastly expensive aristocracy when its continued existence only serves to buttress and maintain the status quo and its social divisions. Indeed, this must remain if monarchy, corporatism and Elite privilege is to thrive, tangled up as it is in complex ponerological webs of custom, status and wealth. The idea that we are all still subjects to a ruling King or Queen rather than citizens, has power, even if implicit. Societies at this time, need leaders but leaders with the highest principles which honour tradition as means to free the mind rather than to repeat destructive customs of power privilege and indulgence.

Similarly, organisations and agencies are following a PR image which has little to do with the values a truly progressive society would hope to encourage. WWF does not oppose hunting or situations that pose a threat to animal welfare. “Conservation” is its priority. So much so, that the following statement on the Canadian seal hunt, is illuminating: “As long as the commercial hunt for harp seals off the coast of Canada is of no threat to the population of over 5 million harp seals, there is no reason for WWF Canada to reconsider its current priorities and actively oppose the annual harvest of harp seals.” [15]

Supporting the fur industry is the type of conservation we are talking about here not least the barbarism that seal hunts entail. Clearly, as WWF has stated humane treatment of animals and animal welfare is not its concern. Nor it seems, does it view exploitation as something to be concerned about.

The Sumatran Orangutan in Indonesia, is under intense pressure from Palm oil companies causing massive deforestation. Ian Singleton, Director of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program told journalist Elizabeth Batt that the Sumatran orangutan will be extinct by the end of 2012. WWF being concerned about endangered species would see this as an opportunity to protect this species, right? Wrong. WWF and other eco-groups are involved in a huge green washing deal which operates like this:

“ The global organic food industry agrees to support international agribusiness in clearing as much tropical rainforest as they want for farming. In return, agribusiness agrees to farm the now-deforested land using organic methods, and the organic industry encourages its supporters to buy the resulting timber and food under the newly devised ‘Rainforest Plus” label.’

The ‘world’s biggest wildlife conservation groups have agreed exactly to such a scenario, only in reverse.’ And it’s being led by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Through ‘a series of global bargains with international agribusiness, in exchange for vague promises of habitat protection, sustainability and social justice, these conservation groups are offering to greenwash industrial commodity agriculture.” [16]

Sumatra is home to a rich variety of wildlife some of which only exist in this mountainous paradise. Palm oil is used in biodiesel, toiletries and food products and is in high demand across the world. But the boom in palm oil means environmental degradation with high quantities of pesticides and “slash and burn” deforestation, despite WWF claims of sustainability. Corruption is rife. For example, RSPO stands for “Roundtable on Sustainable palm Oil,” yet as one former Indonesian WWF employee commented:

“Sustainable palm oil, is really non-existent” for the following reasons: “The certificate makes it possible to crank up production while simultaneously placating the consciences of customers. Henkel, the Düsseldorf-based consumer products company, advertises its Terra range of household cleaning products with the claim that it supports ‘the sustainable production of palm and palm kernel oil, together with the WWF.’ ” [17]

But WWF calls all this “market transformation” allowing corporations such as Unilever to process 1.3 million tons of palm oil a year a record that transforms it into the one of the world’s largest palm oil processors along with Wilmar, one of the world’s major palm oil producers. Now that they have completed their “accreditation” and taken into account “social criteria” then, all is well according to WWF. Though virgin forest continues to be cut down and environmental toxicity levels abound.

Charges of profits before principles have dogged WWF since its inception. The Cambodian government was none too pleased with the organisation and its handling of the Irrawaddy Dolphin in the Mekong river systems, listed as critically endangered by WWF since 2004. In June 2009, Touch Seang Tana, chairman of Cambodia’s Commission for Conservation and Development of the Mekong River Dolphins Eco-tourism Zone, accused WWF of misrepresenting the level of extinction danger concerning the Mekong Dolphin in order to increase fundraising. He stated: “The WWF’s report did not implement scientific research,” citing that: “Most dolphins died of fishing net from local fishermen and explosion devices for local people to catch fish. They did not die from pollution, DDT, pesticide or dams.” [18]

Heavy-Pollution-Leads-Mekong-Dolphins-to-Extinction-2

Mekong river Dolphins ‘almost extinct’

Cambodian government estimates between 155 and 175 Irrawaddy dolphins still remain in Cambodia’s stretch of the Mekong River, while WWF last year put the figure at just 85. Since 2012 Cambodia cabinet has agreed to implement a conservation area which will cover a 180-kilometer-long stretch of river from Eastern Kratie province to the border with Laos.

When WWF does do its professed job of protecting endangered species it doesn’t succeed there either, at least according to the 1989 Phillipson Report named after Oxford professor John Phillipson. He did as WWF asked and completed a commissioned internal audit to gauge the organization’s effectiveness. The 252 page report proved the charity had produced a litany of embarrassing failures. Not one endangered species project had been successful. After spending a fortune on “saving the panda” through “scientific breeding” which the fund proclaimed should be applied to all other species, it consequently “relocated” thousands of peasant Chinese so that they were out of the range of the panda’s habitat. In their bid to save the panda from extinction they squandered the millions accrued from donations.

Phillipson states:

“despite a staff of 43 (23 allegedly science-trained), panda breeding has not been a success and research output negligible…. The laboratories, equipped at a cost to WWF of SFr 0.53 million, are essentially non-functional. … A lack of proper advice, inadequately trained staff, and poor direction have resulted in a ‘moribund’ laboratory … The obvious conclusion must be that WWF has not been effective or efficient in safeguarding its massive investment … WWF subscribers would be dismayed to learn that the capital input has been virtually written off.” […]

“It must be accepted that WWF activities in China are largely in disarray … The policy of widening WWF involvement to cover other interests has, in my opinion, been counterproductive and, in view of the virtual cessation of support for all forms of panda research, amounts to an abrogation of responsibility for the much publicized ‘Panda Program.’” [19]

Furthermore, WWF had bribed Chinese officials with donated funds in order to preserve panda habitat but which also allowed the building of hydroelectric dams leading to ever increasing demands for bigger bribes. [20]

After decades of so called expertise in the field of conservation this is surely an odd state of affairs for an environmental institution which is regularly consulted on conservation issues despite having a dubious record on animal welfare and an appalling success rate in protecting species from extinction. Its bank balance is certainly something that could be termed “successful.”

In 2010, WWF proclaimed it the “Year of the Tiger” in keeping with its long tradition of campaigning on behalf of this endangered species. In the early 1970s, it managed to convince the Indian government under then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s Indian government to create some protected areas for the tigers. At the time it said there were roughly 4,000 tigers compared to just 1,700 today. Without WWF perhaps the tiger would be no more? It is hard to say. The issue of resettlement played out in India just as it would in China, with assurances by WWF staff that operations were handled properly. Given the magnitude of resettlement in India resulting 300,000 families being “persuaded” to leave their homes in order to create a conservation zone, it is hard to believe that such a mass displacement was willingly undertaken.

>WWF’s insistence that elephant populations were just fine underscored its preference for culling and hunting through much of the 1960s and 1970s. Though almost every environmental movement and nature conservation expert was saying that the elephant was in danger, WWF continued to support that line that estimates of sharp declines were exaggerated. In fact, from the results of various studies it was found that there were 3 million elephants in Africa in the early 1950s; 1.3 million elephants in the mid-70s when the ivory trade was at its height; 400,000 by 1988. Estimated populations of African elephants have recovered somewhat at between 490,000 or 65o, 000, with Asian elephants at only 60,000. [21]

International WWF chairman Sir Peter Scott also had a reputation for the option of culling animals regardless of whether numbers were dwindling or not. In 1963, in a report to the Ugandan Parks Board, Scott recommended the ‘culling’ of 2,500 elephants and according to EIR report by Allen Douglas “… game hunter Ian Parker, … massacred 4,000 hippos while he was at it.” It seems that the Chairman: “… had recommended the slaughter on the Malthusian premise that ‘overpopulation’ required the killing of many individuals in order to ‘save the species.’ In reality, as it later emerged, Scott wanted to create a valuable mahogany plantation in the forests where the elephants fed, and they were in the way.” [22]  If there was any truth to the notion that WWF was interested in preserving species then it was strongly called into question when it embraced the more lucrative idea of allowing only the privileged to kill endangered wildlife under the cover of that well-known term: “sustainable use”, which means the killing of animals in the most efficient way and which maximizes profits without damaging the long-term viability of the species.

An example of this strategy so common in nature conservation was discovered in 1994 where the Tufts Centre for Animals and Public Policy director Andrew Rowan found: “… a single difference in the responses of zoo and humane representatives to 12 hypothetical ethical problems he posed at the White Oak conference on zoos and animal protection. Most agreed that hunting is both ethically and pragmatically dubious as an alleged tool of wildlife management. Yet, endorsing the WWF view, the zoo people were virtually all willing to tolerate trophy hunting as a way to make wildlife lucrative for poor nations, and presumably therefore worth protecting.” [23]

Trophy-hunting and the neo-colonialism of the rich, white man pervades WWF philosophy and practice. In the context of “Sustainable use” this will actually speed up the likelihood of extinction when artificial practices based on blood sport and killing for pleasure wrapped up in rules and regulations replaces the natural balance of hunting for survival and necessity often sitting alongside a healthy wisdom and understanding of the natural world.  The same applies to the politics of “sustainable use” which have attracted the “change agent” doctrine that is seen in Agenda 21 and across the environmentalism movement. Such advocates within WWF and other groups have the gall to suggest to Africans and Asians living on the poverty line that they should allow rich Europeans and Americans to kill animals for sport as oppose to those who kill to survive and must be reduced to living on the scarcity of hand-outs to compensate. As one commentator reiterated: “ ‘Sustainable users’ argue that giving poor Africans and Asians a collective economic stock in wildlife will lead to the development of a collective ethic, whereby poachers will become pariahs. This ignores the history of collectivism wherever it has been attempted, from the failed USSR to Africa’s own overgrazed grasslands.” [24]

With the failure to save the Black Rhino in the 1960s and 70s as well as the declining populations of the White Rhino, John Phillipson stated:

“The project was ill-conceived and indefensible in conservation terms; the Southern White Rhino has never, at least in historic times, occurred in Kenya: Moreover, there is no evidence that the Northern White Rhino ever roamed the lands which now constitute the 87,044 hectare Meru National Park. The assumption must be that in the mid-1960s WWF was either scientifically incompetent, hungry for publicity, greedy for money, or unduly influenced by scientifically Naïve persons of stature.” […]

“The program came to an abrupt end in November 1988, perhaps mercifully in that it removed a constant source of embarrassment. Insurgent Somali poachers shot all the remaining white rhino in an act of defiance, an unfortunate end for the rhino but no doubt a welcome relief for concerned conservationists. Project 0195 is not a project that WWF should look back on with any pride.” [25]

Funded with 1 million Swiss francs Operation Stronghold was ostensibly conducted to save the Black Rhino in the Zambezi Valley from extinction. It soon became clear that this was something other than just Rhino protection and the transferral to safer regions. Taking a leaf out of the rise in private army outsourcing in countries such as America, Britain and Israel WWF paid Chief Game Ranger Glen Tatham and his men to protect the Rhino it seems at any cost. But was the Rhino really the main objective here?

blk-rhino

Black Rhino, Zambezi Valley

In November 1988, When two of Tatham’s unit were charged with murder after allegedly shooting dead “poachers” in cold blood, more details of their activities began to surface. Notwithstanding that over 145 “poachers” had been killed since 1984 and 1991, many had been targeted from helicopters manned by WWF employees. [26] Yet, according to the Game department’s own figures: “Of the 228 people killed or taken prisoner, only 107 guns were recovered. Given that another 202 individuals were recorded as having fled, some badly injured, some of whom would have lost or been unable to carry away their weapons, this means that Tatham et al., failed to recover weapons from three-quarters of those killed, taken prisoner, or driven away. This raises the question of whether those targeted by the guards were in fact armed poachers at all.”  [27]

Rhinos were in fact, shipped off to countries with privately-owned game reserves not just in Africa but all over the world, an immensely lucrative project for WWF.  Following in the wake of WWF’s sleight of hand, the IMF did what it does best and embarked on a restructuring of Zimbabwe’s economy, which meant placing it in debt and cutting what was left of social services. Dumped into the middle of this Western-imposed chaos was the monoculture business of beef ranching for Europe, slap-bang in the Zambezi Valley, the exact position where the rhino’s once lived. A government and corporate-mandated extermination of wildlife then ensued to provide for the IMF beef factories.

Black Rhinos have made a dramatic comeback after private land use was brought into the picture which also utilised armed guards and private army protection. Ever on the look-out for profit, a Price Waterhouse study commissioned by conservancies and WWF-Zimbabwe/Beit Trust to explore the land-use options available to the conservancies concluded that: “from a financial perspective, wildlife is a more desirable land-use than cattle in these Conservancies.” [28]

WWF’s earliest corporate sponsor was the petrochemical giant Royal Dutch/Shell. In 1961 it gave WWF-UK £10,000 a considerable sum back in 1961. So, before green righteousness goes to far let it be remembered that WWF was actually founded on oil money. But it doesn’t stop there. Corporate sponsorship continues apace some of whom include Canon, Volvo, Nokia and HSBC – the latter having been recently fined more that $1.5 billion for financial corruption, a banking cartel that was found to be laundering money for drug barons and crime lords whilst engaging in the kind  of financial terrorism second only to Barclays Banks. Yet getting into bed with oppressive regimes and finding time to indoctrinate slum kids in Pakistan we shouldn’t be too surprised, especially when we nip back to 1988…

In that year, a large cache of paintings were sold for £700,000 to raise money for the World Wide Fund for Nature. The money was deposited in a Swiss WWF bank account by former head of the WWF, Prince Bernhard. In the following year £500,000 was transferred back to Bernhard by director-general of the WWF, Charles de Haes for what was described as “a private project.” In fact, Prince Bernhard had used the money for Operation Project Lock to hire mercenaries—mostly British to ostensibly fight poachers in nature reserves.[29]In 1990, WWF’s cosseted existence was placed under the media spotlight embroiling the organisation in a very public scandal. A joint operation between WWF and British Special Air Services (SAS) had been tasked with infiltrating “commandos” in a bid to save the Rhino and in the hope of dismantling the illegal ivory trade and Rhino horn trading network. That was the theory hatched in the WWF boardroom. It proved to be colossal failure.

Firstly, £1 million went missing. This may have had something to do with the fact that her Majesty’s respected SAS group had set up shop with Rhino products and gone into business for themselves. Far from stopping the illegal trade, they had muscled in on the action taking over the market and continuing the supply lines. Large numbers of poachers were murdered according to statements made by Nelson Mandela’s National African Congress. Further revelations came to light about the depth of British Intelligence involvement which was fully supported by WWF’s own documents and published in the Africa Confidential Bulletin. MI5 was said to have orchestrated Operation Lock with David Stirling, creator of the SAS.

The history of African National Parks is a history of collusion between park wardens funded and armed by WWF. The “poachers” are often phantoms in that such fabrications cover the truth that they are often the very same park wardens. The SAS unit officially sent in to stop the trade were drawn from the ranks of seasoned military professionals with black operational or “dirty warfare” experience. They were members of a mercenary unit created by Stirling called KAS International and just the ticket it seemed for WWF’s designs.

Though largely downplayed and covered up by the media, the trail of culpability led directly to the door of the British Establishment and most notably Prince Philip, the Queen Mother and author Laurens Van Der Post Prince Charles’ tutor, then first counsellor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on African Affairs. (Incidentally, Van Der Post has been proven to have been a fraud who knew very little about the real Africa). Nevertheless, the Duke of Edinburgh is pleased with the legacy. And WWF’s present day “Market Transformation” team shows no sign of observing a distance between corporations and their cash. “Change agents” are at work where the big dealers and producers of commodities like soybeans, milk, palm oil, wood and meat can see the errors of their ways and be shown the righteousness of a sustainable lifestyle. As a result, Cargill and Monsanto, two of the most heinous polluters and human rights abusers on the planet, donate regularly to WWF and attend many of their meetings. Keeping the green spin turning is essential for such companies which have huge investments in genetically modified soybean.

Jobs for the boys continues in 2013 and not much has changed. Thanks to the European Union millions of pounds are being paid to green campaign groups so that they can effectively lobby themselves. The European Commission Environmental Fund and are giving grants to enable scores of green organisations to influence and promote EU policy. According to the Tax Payers’ Alliance which analyses organisations’ spending this special fund called Life+, has exceeded £90 million over the past fifteen years. Set up in the 1990s to fund non-profit initiatives at the European level but most importantly, it is in the development and implementation of Community policy and legislation where Life+ is designed to be most effective. It would be a stretch to say that this money is being used to protect the environment, rather it seems this is another example of EU policies being routed through the back door of environmentalism without due consultation. Sure enough, the European Policy office of WWF (now based in Brussels) is up at the top of the grant listing having received £7.4 million. According to a Deccember 21st 2013 report from The Telegraph entitled: ‘European Union funding £90m green lobbying con’ By Robert Mendrick and Edward Malnick:

“In its most recent round of grants for 2013, Life+ awarded £7.5 million to 32 groups, including:

  • £290,000 to CEE Bankwatch Network, a Czech-based organisation which campaigns against “the activities of international financial institutions in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region that cause negative environmental and social impacts”;
  • £80,000 to Counter Balance, also based in Prague, which lobbies banks to ensure they “adhere to sustainable development goals, climate change mitigation policy, and the protection of biodiversity, in line with EU goals”;
  • £260,000 to Brussels-based Health Care Without Harm Europe, which campaigns to “address the environmental impact of the health-care sector in Europe … to make the health-care system more ecologically sustainable”;
  • £44,000 to Kyoto Club, based in Rome, whose main actions include “lobbying and advocacy for EU climate change mitigation policies, through policy recommendations and reports, information-sharing and campaigning, participation in EU events and stakeholder meetings, and contacts with relevant MEPs, Council and Commission officials”;
  • £350,000 to the Italian-based Slow Food, a group which campaigns to “reduce the impact of food production and consumption on the environment” and will achieve this by “participating in the international and EU debate about food through EU institution advisory committees, expert working groups and other high-level groups”.

At last, finally some cash is being used to implement a global green policy? Well, by now, it should be obvious that all this money flying about doesn’t actually alter the fundamental socio-economic structure but certainly lines the pockets of new “eco” industries and their bureaucracies. Greenpeace is possibly the only well-known environmental activist group who is acutely aware of green-washing having chosen not to take any EU or government funding. It perhaps the best known environmental campaigning organisation, has refused to take any EU or government funding. It should be commended for realising the nature of such compromise and what this really entails. Independence means it is much less likely to provide and open door to ponerisation. (It’s only a shame they don’t apply the same principles to their stance on climate change).

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WWF “Business partners” 2012

The green charity Friends of the Earth (FoE) is another recipient of Life+ with over £2.1 million in funds in 2012 from: “… at least seven different departments of the European Commission. By contrast, the charity’s arm in Britain said it receives less than one per cent of its budget from the EU, with the vast majority of its funding coming from individuals and trusts.” The report goes on to state: “FoEE used its funding last year to produce a four-minute video to put pressure on the British and German governments to back a new EC directive which set a series of legally binding energy efficiency targets across Europe. The video was co-produced with Climate Action Network Europe, which has received £2.3 million from Life+ to ‘improve existing EU climate and energy policies’.”

In fact, the overwhelming drive to promote and lobby for EU directives under sustainable development alongside SMART society in a European setting. Higher tax bills, zero consultation on environmental policy and the new Eco-technocratic bias which goes with it blankets European perception. In the UK austerity measures, rising debt and a generation of older folk frequently have to ration their food in order to pay the electricity bills which have risen by 150 per cent in the last ten years. The German online newspaper deutschewelle.de. reported the figure of 31, 000 Britons, mostly the retired or on low incomes who died in 2012 as a result of the cold. The social and environmental costs are driving the prices sky high. SMART implementation and serious economic difficulties the funding of activist groups for measures and initiatives without due oversight and accountability is an open door to corruption and misappropriation of funds. Since most eco-activist organisations have little or no awareness of the macro-social objectives of those currently shaping European policy it means funding is generally being absorbed into the already centralised belief system inherent in Establishment support. The compromise arrives over time not necessarily in the short-term acceptance of funds. Rather, it contributes to a slow process of attrition where green policy is gradually contoured into a new socio-economic structure which may not be based on the freedom and independence those organisations and NGOs sincerely believe exists.

Employees within WWF and other organisations believe that allowing corporations to continue their natural state of plunder and exploitation while hoping for a change of face is a practical endeavour. For the multitude of good-hearted persons working in organisations like WWF whose patrons clearly have a different environmental and ideological agenda, they are in danger of becoming agents of a change that lead away from what they would sincerely like to see: the betterment of our environment and the human sphere. This will not come without a very different kind of compromise.

**

See also: Greenpeace Helps Corporations Destroy the Planet

 


Notes

[1] Ibid.
[2] Ibid.
[3] ‘Parks for life: Action for protected areas in Europe’ IUCN Commission on National Parks and Protected Areas, Federation of Nature and National Parks of Europe. 1994.
[4]
Dowie, Mark; Conservation Refugees:The Hundred-Year Conflict between Global Conservation and Native Peoples Published by MIT Press, 2009. ISBN-10:0-262-01261-8.
[5] Ibid. (p.xvi intro.)
[6] Ibid.
[7] op. cit. Glüsing and Klawitter.
[8] op. cit. Dowie (p.xix)
[9] op. cit. (p. xx)
[10] op. cit. Glüsing, Klawitter.
[11] Ibid.
[12] ‘Romania: Elite Hunting Spree Sparks Calls For Better Animal’, rferl.org/ September 12, 2012.
[13] ‘Royal row over Russian bear fate’ BBC News, October 2006.
[14] ‘William and Harry fly to Spain to hunt wild boar to celebrate the end of Harry’s helicopter training’ By Rebecca English, Royal Correspondent, 17 January 2012.
[15] Op-Ed: King Juan Carlos not the only questionable association for WWF’ By Elizabeth Batt, http://www.digitaljournal.com April 2012.
[16] ‘Way Beyond Greenwashing: Have Corporations Captured Big Conservation?” by J. Latham, Independent Science News.org.
[17] op. cit. Glüsing, Klawitter.
[18] ‘Cambodia Rejects CNN, WWF Reports about Mekong Dolphin’ June 24 2009. CRI English, Xinhua.
[19] op.cit. La Rouche et al.
[20] Ibid.
[21] IUCN’s African Elephant Status Report 2007 | ‘Asian Elephant distribution’. EleAid. 2007.
[22] ‘The oligarchs’ real game is killing animals and killing people’ by Allen Douglas, EIR.1994.
[23] ‘What’s Wrong with “Sustainable Use”?’ June 1994 Animal People http://www.animalpeople.org
[24] Ibid.
[25] op. cit. Phillipson.
[26]‘Can Mercenary Management stop poaching in Africa?’ Animal People, April 1999. http://www.animalpeople.org
[27] op. cit. Douglas.
[28] Private Conservation Case Study: Private Conservation and Black Rhinos in Zimbabwe: The Savé Valley and Bubiana Conservancies, by Michael De Alessi January 2000.
[29] “Pretoria inquiry confirms secret battle for the rhino”. The Independent. 18 January 1996.

 

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