Discussion in 'Wildlife & Nature Conservation' started by Loxodonta Cobra, 12 Jan 2017.
‘Torture & murder’: WWF to be probed for alleged human rights abuses against Cameroon tribes
Several years ago, I watched a TV programme about WWF buying an area of land as a tiger reserve and telling the local people that they were not allowed to grow food in the reserve. After a time, some tigers were poached in the reserve. WWF officials asked the local people why they hadn't stopped the trespassers. The reply was, "Before you came, we used to get our food from the reserve. Now, the reserve has no value to us. We are worse off because of you. Why should we help you?" Eventually, WWF allowed the local people to grow food around the edge of the reserve and the people helped to
If the current accusations are true, it reflects very badly on WWF and may affect other forms of conservation. WWF should be working with organisations like Survival and preserving tribal people, as well as their natural environment, which will also help the wildlife.
I agree with this completely. In my opinion, the best ways to start interest in animal conservation is through the indigenous communities who know that they will have to live with the often dangerous animals that you want to conserve and reintroduce into areas that they are no-longer there. These communities are often tied with the animals that many groups are protecting in terms of culture, their economies, and many would not want to see them dead. However, they still need to put food on the table for their families, so unless you take into account of humans needs, you cannot act for animals. I definitely think that this has been under-looked completely by conservation organizations, Primarily because the motto is "nature first, humans second" but it shocked me that one as respected as the WWF was a part of this kind of human abuse.
I know you qualified this paragraph, but it's unfair to insinuate that the WWF never considers indigenous populations. Regardless of these allegations, the charity's position is long-standing and outlined in a Statement of Principles which clearly neither of you have read.
It's also an oversimplification to suggest that conservationists should always adopt a certain strategy when dealing with local stakeholders, eg. permit them access to reserves. Often this is appropriate, in some cases it's even required to achieve project goals, but there are cases when total exclusion is necessary. Context is everything.
I don't like these kinds of arguments, but I think it is unfair for Giant Panda to make unfounded negative comments about Loxodonta Cobra and myself. How does Giant Panda know that neither of us have read WWF's Statement of Principles? I have been a member of WWF for many years, but that doesn't mean that I agree with everything it does, any more than everything done by former employers I have worked for. The statement 'If the current accusations are true' indicates that the accusations should be investigated to find out if tribal people from the Cameroons were subjected to human rights violations and, if so, whether WWF knowingly complied with these violations.
I also agree with many of the principles of Survival International and the rights of tribal people to decide how they want to live, rather than being forced to 'enter civilisation' - whatever that may be. I remember the story of a burger chain wanting to cut down a rainforest to provide grazing land for cheap cattle. The government said this wasn't possible, as tribal people lived there. The burger chain arranged for a helicopter to pass over a forest clearing and drop contaminated clothing and poisoned sweets. The tribal adults died as they had no immunity to the contamination on the clothes, while the children died from eating the sweets. As there were no longer any people in the forest, the burger chain was able to cut down the forest.
Hopefully, many Zoochatters will accept that such practices are unacceptable and that tribal people form part of ecosystems and should have the same kinds of rights that are applied to other people. I know conservationists who are trying to involve people in conserving their local wildlife, but this involves negotiation, so both sides benefit, rather than expecting poor people to make sacrifices in favour of wildlife. The latter attitude can lead to people reacting against conservationists and making short-term gains from destroying natural habitats.
Because your posts, with their half-remembered anecdotes and hasty generalisations, read like someone who says: "You know how zoos should generate funds - start charging for entry!". If you had read the document, you wouldn't suggest the WWF adopts an approach it has long championed. That's how I know. The fact you didn't state otherwise in your rebuttal only confirms it.
And I recognised your qualification in my previous post, but the part I disagreed with ("WWF should be...") was unqualified. There is a debate to be had over the rights of indigenous people versus conservation and we don't know the truth of this case; neither justify ignoring WWF's record or policies.
If these accusations against the WWF are indeed true, it is truly a tragedy. The suffering of innocent people is not necessary to preserve biodiversity, and the stewards of conservation should be champions for the downtrodden, not their oppressors. I hope that this does not become a more common trend in the future, and that this does not tarnish the reputation of those conservationists and environmentalists who want to do what's right in all aspects of life, not just ecologically.
Even looking at it from just a logical point of view, it is more effective to involve local people in conservation work rather than alienate them. The more local people there are who care about their surrounding environment and fight to defend it, the easier it will be to protect it long-term. And removing people from an area doesn't resolve poaching or hunting for bushmeat: the most effective way to resolve that is to improve living standards and produce jobs with good wages for Africans so that they are not incentivized to produce food and revenue from hunting wild animals.
Agreed on both points. From both emotional and logical perspectives, it's a good idea to involve local people. They're in a good position to protect the environment. They can see what's going on, they can report illegal activities, and they can pressure other locals not to poach. And the jobs thing, too. A lot of poaching demand comes from wealthy people in other countries, but it's usually impoverished locals doing the actual poaching.
And just as well, local people are rarely the major contributors to a species extinction these days. Kicking out the locals while big logging companies remain? That's like trying to bandage the paper cut on your finger when you just got shot in the chest.
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