WWF denounce new book as containing "An extraordinary level of factual inaccuracy"

Submitted by: Martyn Eustace 05/11/2014

There's been a bit of a spat recently between author Wilfried Huismann, who first published a book in German language in 2012 called 'Silence of the Pandas', and WWF who stand accused by the author of various misdeads. More about this will undoubtably follow!

It was recently reported in the Guardian, (John Vidal, Saturday 4 October 2014), that WWF International, the world's largest conservation group, has been accused of "selling its soul" by forging alliances with powerful businesses which destroy nature and use the WWF brand to "greenwash" their operations.

The allegations are made in an explosive book previously barred from Britain. The Silence of the Pandas became a German bestseller in 2012 but, following a series of injunctions and court cases, it has not been published until now in English. Revised and renamed Pandaleaks, it will be out next week.

Its author, Wilfried Huismann, says the Geneva-based WWF International has received millions of dollars from its links with governments and business. Global corporations such as Coca-Cola, Shell, Monsanto, HSBC, Cargill, BP, Alcoa and Marine Harvest have all benefited from the group's green image only to carry on their businesses as usual.

WWF have robustly defended their position in the following statement:

"The discredited documentary Der Pakt mit dem Panda was initially shown in Germany on the ARD network in June 2011 and pirated versions of the German programme circulated via YouTube. From September 2011, copies of the English language version The Silence of Pandas have been available on YouTube.  The documentary also spawned a book, Schwarzbuch WWF,  with a modified English version Pandaleaks: The dark side of the WWF published in September 2014 .  This analysis is of the original documentary
For a programme supported and broadcast by a major public broadcaster, The Silence of Pandas falls astonishingly short of basic norms of journalism. The main faults are:
Poor substantiation of assertions and allegations. Much of the programme is based on assertions taken at face value. There is little evidence of attempts at corroboration.
Poor fact checking. Programme is replete with errors, many of which could have been easily checked with readily available material online or simple queries. In some cases documentary team was in possession of factually correct material but chose not to use it.
Poor background research. The programme displays little familiarity with the background of even some basic elements of the topics covered.
Lack of balance. The programme set out to vilify WWF. Material that did not fit into this story line was avoided or ignored.
Distortions, possibly deliberate.  WWF was held responsible for decisions of governments, actions by unassociated companies and alleged events in places where it has not worked. Interviews in Bahasa Indonesia were grossly mistranslated into German and English and inserted into false contexts. Descriptions of the film-makers approaches to WWF were false. The roles of WWF personnel were misrepresented.

More of the WWF response can be found here: http://wwf.panda.org/wwf_news/press_releases/a_quick_guide_to_the_silence_of_the_pandas_documentary.cfm

Source: John Vidal, The Observer, Saturday 4 October 2014 12.44 BST