Washington D.C. – Today, Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.)and Ranking Member Rob Bishop (R-Utah) sent a letter to Carter Roberts, the President and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), requesting documents on WWF’s procedures, role in, and knowledge of alleged human rights abuses revealed by Buzzfeed Newsin March.
The letter can be viewed at http://bit.ly/2KO8473.
The letter summarizes the concerns: “Despite the importance of protecting wildlife and preventing species extinction, the United States cannot be party to violations of basic human rights. Moreover, such abuses undermine local support for wildlife conservation efforts and may jeopardize long-term species recovery.”
Grijalva and Bishop requested a Government Accountability Office investigationof protections in place to prevent federal funding from contributing to human rights abusesincluding torture, sexual assault, and extrajudicial killings associated with anti-poaching efforts. They have also requested a briefing from the Department of the Interior.
Today’s letter requests documents to help understand whether WWF was aware that their activities may have contributed to human rights abuses, the actions they tookto prevent the atrocities and how best to prevent future occurrences. The alleged abuses were perpetrated by groups engaged in campaigns to prevent poaching in wildlife conservation parks funded by WWF.
Poaching of endangered wildlife fuels the illicit wildlife trade. Wildlife trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar transnational criminal activity that is both a conservation issue and a security threat. Estimates place wildlife trafficking among the most lucrative types of illicit trade. A reportreleased earlier this year by the University of Hong Kong finds that trafficking through that city alone is helping to fuel the global extinction crisis.
Wildlife trafficking undermines conservation efforts, fuels corruption and destabilizes communities that depend on wildlife for biodiversity and ecotourism revenue.
Grijalva has been active for many years on international wildlife issues. In April he introducedthe CECIL Act, which restricts the importation of African lion trophies and other sport-hunted species proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act.
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