Cameroon: WWF complicit in tribal people’s abuse
Posted on Oct 10, 2014
Watch Baka recount the abuse they suffer at the hands of anti-poaching squads
Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, has uncovered serious abuses of Baka “Pygmies” in southeast Cameroon, at the hands of anti-poaching squads supported and funded by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The Baka are being illegally forced from their ancestral homelands in the name of “conservation” because much of their land has been turned into “protected areas” – including safari-hunting zones. Rather than target the powerful individuals behind organized poaching, wildlife officers and soldiers pursue Baka who hunt only to feed their families.
A Baka man told Survival, “The forest used to be for the Baka but not anymore. We would walk in the forest according to the seasons but now we’re afraid. How can they forbid us from going into the forest? We don’t know how to live otherwise. They beat us, kill us and force us to flee to Congo.”
Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, “Tribal peoples are the best conservationists and . They know more about their lands and what happens on them than anyone else. If conservation is to work, organizations like WWF need to stick to international law, uphold tribal peoples’ land rights, ask them what help they need in protecting their land, listen to them, and then be prepared to back them up as much as they can. A major change in thinking about conservation is urgently required.”
Notes to editors:
- “Pygmy” is an umbrella term commonly used to refer to the hunter-gatherer peoples of the Congo Basin and elsewhere in Central Africa. The word is considered pejorative and avoided by some tribespeople, but used by others as a convenient and easily recognized way of describing themselves. Read more.
- Survival has submitted a request to the Cameroonian National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms asking it to investigate these abuses.
- Many Baka (such as the woman speaking in the video) refer to anti-poaching squads as “dobi-dobi” (WWF) since they do not distinguish between WWF and Cameroon’s Ministry of Forests and Fauna.