Rangers for a U.S.-funded national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo allegedly whipped and raped pregnant women—and the World Wide Fund for Nature kept the claims under wraps, BuzzFeed news reports. A confidential report led by the WWF’s own investigators and obtained by BuzzFeed News provides testimony of the abuse, which resulted in one pregnant woman suffering a miscarriage. The report also found that rangers at Salonga National Park, who were backed by the WWF, had murdered at least one villager and tortured more by tying their penises with fishing lines. Two legal experts told BuzzFeed that their investigation, which was submitted to the WWF in March, had been cut short, preventing them from investigating other possible crimes.
Investigator Willy Elua accused the WWF of suppressing his findings. The WWF reportedly asked for the investigation’s findings to be treated in a “non-public fashion,” and then said it did not publicly release the report because of victim confidentiality and due process. But the WWF reportedly failed to disclose the report to Congress after a congressional committee investigating human rights abuses specifically asked the WWF for documents and information relating to the investigation. The WWF only provided a redacted report to Congress this week once it became aware of BuzzFeed’s plan to publish its fundings.