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INVESTIGATION: Inside the Corrupt Global Conservation Organization Infiltrated by Trophy Hunters

The investigation shows that trophy hunters and luxury fashion brands have been working for years to influence the IUCN, to expand the billion-dollar trade in endangered animal species.

ROBERTO JURKSCHAT: ‘The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is widely recognized as the global leader on species conservation. Its huge network of 15,000 experts advise national governments on what endangered species deserve protection, and its headline-grabbing Red List, published between every five and 10 years, is the world’s most comprehensive account of which species are most at risk of extinction.

But an investigation by BuzzFeed News shows that trophy hunters and luxury fashion brands have been working for years to influence the IUCN, to expand the billion-dollar trade in endangered animal species. Trophy hunting is big business — in the past decade 1.7 million hunting trophies were traded worldwide, and according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, 200,000 of those are believed to have come from endangered species.

Advocates defend trophy hunting as a way to fund conservation efforts that ultimately help the animals being hunted, even if they are already endangered. But critics say the benefits are exaggerated, and a convenient argument to make for those people who simply want to kill wild animals for sport. As an issue trophy hunting has been etched into the public consciousness since worldwide anger erupted over the killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe, by an American dentist who had a permit.

BuzzFeed News has identified conflicts of interest within the IUCN, revealing the links that exist between IUCN member organizations and the trophy hunting and fashion industries. Meanwhile, some conservation experts have been shut out of the IUCN groups involved in the crucial decisions about which species should be classified as the most threatened.

BuzzFeed News has spoken to conservation experts worried about the influence trophy hunters have on IUCN policies; tracked flows of money from big game hunters to organizations with links to IUCN members; heard that experts were censured for speaking out against the leather trade; learned that efforts to support the protection of animals were suppressed by the IUCN; and seen an email sent from the account of an IUCN member asking trophy hunting lobbyists and rhino breeders to publicly support China for expanding the trade on tiger and rhino parts’. SOURCE…

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