WWF does, or I should say doesn’t, do it again

WWF does, or I should say doesn’t, do it again
Posted on February 20, 2014 | Barry Kent MacKay | Written on February 20, 2014
Letter type:

Well darn. My friends all laughed (they can be mean) when I expressed optimism.  David Miller, former mayor of Toronto, had been appointed head of World Wildlife Fund Canada. “That could be good,” I argued.  “They might change!”  My friends kept giggling.
You see, among world conservationists Canada is, well, subject to derision, a country where the federal government actively opposes environmentalism and environmentalists.  And among conservation organizations the biggest, the World Wildlife Fund, is, well, let us say seen as a small “c” hyper-conservative, don’t rock the boat kind of organization, good when it comes to having big bucks to spend on research and studies, but terrified of being associated with anything that might hurt the status quo.  

There are exceptions: WWF (aka World Wide Fund for Nature) certainly was on the side of most of us on the blue-fin tuna issue, advocating for a ban on commercial trade (it didn’t happen).  But as a broad generality they try so hard not to offend the powers that-be. What they don’t want to do, it seems, is hurt potential future partners, government or industry. Government and industry thus loves them and their panda logo.  The panda, meanwhile, continues its slow march to extinction.

Consider Coca Cola. WWF and Coca Cola had a great thing going, Coke using the literally iconic polar bear, or a digitalized facsimile thereof, in their ads, promising to give money to WWF to protect the species. And what is being done?  Well, we have a “national polar bear day” on February 27.  Oh good.   AND…recognizing that climate change is what most threatens the polar bear, WWF is attacking its root cause.
As WWF-Canada proudly states: “We’ve identified a resilient stretch of ice that is projected to remain when all other large areas of summer sea ice are gone. We’re calling it the Last Ice Area, and it’s part of our solution for conserving life in the Arctic. This is a place where we have the chance to get it right by planning for a healthy Arctic future. It’s an opportunity to make sure that Arctic ecosystems are valued by communities and businesses in the North and around the world, that this resilient region will support people and wildlife for generations to come. With your support, we are making sure this opportunity isn’t lost.”
Does that make sense to you?  Me either.  It’s not that they aren’t fighting climate change at all: we did have national sweater day, that was February 6 (I’m not making this up), when we all were urged to wear a sweater, and turn down the heat in our homes.   I guess we’re the guilty ones, eh?  Yes sir; I’ve done my conservation duty and gee, that hardly hurt at all.

Anyway, a while ago I was asked by a concerned citizen if Canada would consider doing an ivory crush.  We know that any “legal” elephant ivory present fueled the illegal poaching of elephants, with massive declines in elephant populations.  As a result countries in Africa, starting with Kenya in 1989, have destroyed stockpiles of ivory, instead of selling them for funds they could assuredly use.   The U.S. recently did the same, except instead of burning, which would contribute to air pollution, they literally crushed it to worthless powder….and that included confiscated art objects and souvenirs, buttons and piano keys plus whole tusks.
I laughed (but quietly, kindly) and said I didn’t think Canada would join the effort to conserve elephants, but my correspondent persevered, and quite understandably wrote to WWF-Canada, asking the organization to sign on to the idea.

David Miller wrote back:

“Thank you so much for your support and active interest in stopping the illegal trade in ivory. We are proud of the role WWF and Traffic have played in this effort over many years, including in Canada, and we work very closely with Canadian enforcement authorities and routinely consult with them, including providing expert advice and support.
“I am advised that the Canadian ivory stockpile is very low and secure against becoming part of the illegal trade. While we appreciate the possible symbolic value of such a gesture, we will be unable to sign the letter as our efforts are focused on the illegal trade itself rather than legal ivory.”
However he added that WWF gave “expert advice” on a recent persecution of narwhal tusk smuggling (hey…it’s made of ivory) and at the bottom we are reminded that Loblaws Company Limited presented National Sweater Day, when we “Turn down the heat and put on a cozy sweater to show your support for action on climate change and energy conservation.”
Take THAT, Stephen Harper, and shove it up your pipelines.
Miller’s response is surprising, given that Carter Roberts, president and CEO of WWF in the U.S., said, “By crushing this ivory stockpile, the U.S. government is sending a signal.  If we’re going to solve this crisis we have to crush the demand, driven by organized crime syndicates who are robbing the world of elephants and stealing the natural heritage of African Nations.”   See the difference?  Roberts continued, “It’s a global
phenomenon. So we hope this encourages other governments to take bold, decisive steps to curb the demand for illegal elephant products.”
Even Prince William…what a radical guy…has proposed the destruction of all ivory held in the royal collection, some 1,200 items, including an ivory-decorated throne form India.
Come, David, get with it.  Take the same radical route as various governments, Carter Roberts and Prince William and advocate on behalf of destroying Canada’s ivory.  Then go home, turn down the temperature, put in a cozy sweater and save the planet your way, having briefly succumbed to radical discontent in the interest of just maybe saving the world’s largest living land animal – isn’t that what WWF is supposed to be doing?

About The Author

Barry Kent MacKay's picture

Barry Kent MacKay is the Canadian representative of Born Free USA, as well as a director of Animal Alliance of Canada, Zoocheck, Species Survival Network, an experienced naturalist, conservationist and animal... More