WWF statement on allegations raised in BBC Documentary on Kaziranga National Park in India

11 February 2017
“Conservation only works when it benefits both communities and wildlife. From rising panda numbers to increasing tiger populations – the success of all of our conservation work around the world has come from working in partnership with the people who live closest to wildlife and finding lasting solutions to issues like habitat loss and the enormous global illegal wildlife trade.

“India is home to some of the world’s most iconic species. However, many such as rhinos and tigers are under threat due to the illegal wildlife trade which is the fourth largest illegal trade in the world. One such area is the Kaziranga National Park in the Indian state of Assam, where serious rhino poaching remains an issue and a massive challenge for conservation. We have been working around Kaziranga National Park for more than 12 years. We work on tiger monitoring, rhino conservation, maintaining functional wildlife corridors and community development. WWF works closely with local communities in all its landscapes. Around Kaziranga, including in Karbi Anglong, we have been working with local communities to help mitigate conflicts with wildlife, supporting sustainable livelihood development as well as toward the empowerment and capacity building of communities to manage forests under their control.

“The job of a ranger often facing heavily armed criminal gangs is dangerous – over 110 rangers were killed globally by poachers last year. However, whilst we understand they must sometimes defend themselves when under threat, we do not support any procedure that advocates an alleged “shoot on sight policy” as reported on BBC. There is no such policy in Assam or anywhere else in India. There is a government order that sets up a special prosecution process for forest personnel in Assam but there is no immunity or impunity for those found guilty. WWF is fully committed to the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force or Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials and people.

“Across our presence in more than 100 countries we put working with communities at the centre of our work. In 1996, WWF became the first international conservation organization to create a code of ethics relating to indigenous people, to guide its work. This code is very much alive today, and our efforts to formalize and extend Free Prior Informed Consent for communities were commended by the UN Special Rapporteur as an example of “best practice” by international environmental NGOs in 2016.

“WWF-India takes all complaints seriously. Whenever a complaint is made to WWF-India, we request for specific and detailed information to be shared so that the matter can be investigated fully. We have not received any information or complaint from local communities or NGOs on the ground in India regarding these alleged incidents. We are in contact with the BBC and have requested that they share any information they may have so we are able to follow up on the issue with the authorities.”