The World Wildlife Fund, well-known for its work saving animals from the slaughter of poachers, is now facing allegations of abuse itself. BuzzFeed is out with the start of an investigative series alleging that the charity—one of the world's biggest—bankrolls forces who torture and kill humans in their efforts to protect animals. "In national parks across Asia and Africa, the beloved nonprofit with the cuddly panda logo funds, equips, and works directly with paramilitary forces that have been accused of beating, torturing, sexually assaulting, and murdering scores of people," write Tom Warren and Katie JM Baker. Generally, they're referring to park rangers, employed by their own governments, but whose work is mostly funded by the WWF.
The reporters conducted more than 100 interviews over six countries and examined thousands of documents, confidential and otherwise. Among other things, they found that "villagers have been whipped with belts, attacked with machetes, beaten unconscious with bamboo sticks, sexually assaulted, shot, and murdered by WWF-supported anti-poaching units." The piece begins with the story of Shikharam Chaudhary in Nepal, who was accused of burying a rhino horn in his yard. The horn was never found, but his family and witnesses says Chaudhary was waterboarded and brutally beaten in jail. When he died nine days later, an autopsy showed broken ribs and bruises all over his body. Three rangers were charged with murder, but the case was dropped after a lobbying campaign by WWF, which celebrated the decision. (Click to read the full story.)