A charity with strong ties to Prince Harry has been funding rangers responsible for horrific abuses against Indigenous people in the Congo, including torture and rape, according to a major investigation published in the UK’s Mail on Sunday.
The abuses have taken place in Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Republic of Congo, which is managed by African Parks – Prince Harry is a member of their Board of Directors, a position to which he was “elevated” in 2023, after having served as their President for six years.
The investigation has uncovered evidence of countless atrocities committed by African Parks’ “armed militia” against local Baka people. The organization has known for years that the abuses were taking place, but they have continued unabated.
One Baka man told the Mail on Sunday’s Ian Birrell: “African Parks are killing us slowly. We’re suffering so much that we might as well be dead.”
Another said: “The past was far better for us - and the reason is all down to African Parks.”
A Baka man, Moyambi Fulbert, quoted in the report, had this message for Prince Harry: “I’d tell him to stop supporting African Parks. He is a powerful man. He eats well and lives well - but we don’t have anything now and it’s all because of African Parks.”
The Baka and other hunter-gatherers who have lived in and cared for the Congo Rainforest since time immemorial have seen much of their land stolen and turned into National Parks and other Protected Areas.
They have been pushed out, and now live in dire conditions, landless and dependent on others, or turned into ‘tourist attractions.’
They are banned from entering the rainforest they once called home, while mining, oil, and logging companies, and trophy hunters, are considered “partners” of conservation and allowed to carry on with business as usual.
Survival International Director Caroline Pearce said today: “African Parks, along with other big conservation organizations like WWF, takes Indigenous land to turn it into militarized parks or reserves - and then their guards attack people like the Baka just for trying to live their lives. Prince Harry can help stop this.
“We’re calling on him to step down as a director of African Parks. He needs to distance himself from an organization that is complicit in evictions and the heinous abuse of Indigenous people.
“The organization’s funders must withdraw their funding until the Baka are allowed to return to the park and their land ownership rights are recognized.
“The abuses that the Mail on Sunday has uncovered are being repeated across Africa and Asia - this is not a one-off. The entire conservation model as practiced by the big conservation organizations is built on the theft of Indigenous land, and the dispossession of the people who are its rightful owners - just as in the colonial era. It’s time to decolonize conservation.”
Survival researchers who have been to Odzala-Kokoua are available for interview. Photos and video available.