Read the original article by Michael Burke at thehill.com here.
Two U.S. lawmakers called for an investigation into American aid funding for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) after BuzzFeed News reported that WWF funds anti-poaching guards who have tortured and killed indigenous people in Asia and Africa.
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement to BuzzFeed News that WWF “should do whatever it takes to root out the problems.”
“I strongly support efforts to combat wildlife trafficking, but this must not come at the cost of the health, safety, or life of innocent civilians. If this reporting is accurate, WWF should do whatever it takes to root out the problems and demand accountability,” Engel said.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) also called for a review, telling BuzzFeed News that the allegations are “shocking.”
“We all want to protect endangered species and law enforcement is an essential part of that, but it needs to be demonstrated that local park guards are properly trained and monitored, and that those who commit abuses are held accountable,” Leahy said.
BuzzFeed News reported Monday that indigenous people in Asia and Africa have been shot, beaten and sexually assaulted by armed guards, and that WWF funds and equips those guards as part of anti-poaching efforts.
The revelations were the result of a yearlong investigation by BuzzFeed News across six countries and based on more than 100 interviews.
WWF told BuzzFeed News that it had launched an “independent review” into the allegations the news organization reported.
“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,” WWF said in a statement published in Monday’s report. “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.”