It has been alleged by a former campaign staffer at the WWF that the organisation provides lobbying and practical help for trophy hunters. If this is true it goes against the ethos and objectives of the organisation and arguably severely undermines it.
The attack on the charity has been made by one of the UK’s leading animal advocates whose name is Eduardo Gonçalves. He is the founder of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting. And he is the former chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports and a former WWF campaign manager.
Supporters of WFF are opposed to sporting trophy hunting. Mr Gonçalves claims that WWF is “in danger of being vastly and potentially disastrous out of step with public opinion on the issue”. He says that the organisation is in danger of losing funding. In his book Killing Game: the Extinction Industry he asks whether WWF supports trophy hunting.
He argues that one of the positions taken up by WWF is that shooting polar bears for sport may help the species. Apparently, at a meeting between the WWF and the British government, the organisation argued that big-game hunting of polar bears increased the tolerance among the communities living in the Arctic to the presence of polar bears which therefore helps to support their conservation.
The deputy director of conservation at WWF-UK, Paul de Ornellas, said that there are examples of well-managed trophy hunting that have positive outcomes for wildlife and people. It appears that he suggested to Michael Gove as Environment Secretary that making quick changes away from hunting polar bears may have a perverse and negative conservation outcome.
The shooting of polar bears by trophy hunters has risen sharply in popularity. In the decade to 1990, 154 polar bears were shot while in the period 2010 to 2018, 1,583 were shot by trophy hunters.
The known population of polar bears has fallen from 25,000 in 1993 to 19,000 day, I am told by The Times Newspaper of Monday, July 6, 2020.
Mr Gonçalves says that the Inuits in Canada have rarely killed polar bears as part of their culture and never for sport as has been suggested, apparently misleadingly.
Many Inuit communities have strongly opposed foreigners arriving to hunt for polar bear trophies. Also some Inuit settlements have resisted government efforts to use them as guides for the sport hunting industry. Canada currently allows foreigners to shoot the species.
Bans in the trade of body parts may be circumvented by trophy hunting. Gonçalves states that some animals are shipped to China where they are used as alternative remedies in Chinese Traditional Medicine. For example, polar bear gallbladders have been imported to Hong Kong.
Encouraged by Carrie Symonds (I believe), the Prime Minister of the UK, Boris Johnson, has committed himself and his government to ending the trade into Britain of trophy animals.
It is alleged that the WWF sided with hunters against animal welfare activists at the time an international protection agreement was updated in August 2019. The agreement took place at a meeting in Geneva of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. 30 Worldwide Fund for Nature staff members attended.
WWF’s wildlife trade monitoring scheme, Traffic, recommended that their delegates voted against stricter checks on the trade on giraffes, the saiga antelope and African elephants. Traffic also recommended supporting Namibia’s call to make trading in its white rhino easier.
On these issues, Mr Gonçalves argues that the WWF sided with the hunting organisation Safari Club International and against the stance of the Species Survival Group, a coalition of 80 organisations.
A WWF manual called District Quota Setting Toolbox produced in partnership with Survived International for use in Zimbabwe, teaches local people how to measure and calculate the size of trophies. Further, elephant tusks are used in a training exercise.
In the WWF booklet Managing Safari Hunting, readers are told:
Safari hunting is just one of the many ways in which rural district councils with appropriate authority can earn money from their wildlife. But it is the most important.
In defence, a spokesperson for WWF-UK said:
WWF-UK’s position on trophy hunting is clear. WWF-UK does not fund trophy hunting and has no involvement in trophy-hunting operations. We don’t understand why anyone would want to kill and glorify the death of a wild animal for a trophy. We recognise that scientific evidence has shown that trophy hunting can provide some vulnerable communities with benefits from jobs, income and bushmeat, and a more sustainable future.
Comment: it appears to me from the above statement by the VWF that they are ambivalent about their position with respect to the conservation of species and trophy hunting. That is quite clear to me. They should not be ambivalent. They need to be entirely committed to conservation. Once you start wavering in your commitment as appears to be the case, the game is over. This is because big business and trophy hunting is beating conservation hands down. You can’t weaken in the face of their lobbying and their money.