Prince Harry may step down from African Parks charity amidst abuse allegations | World News - Hindustan Times

Prince Harry may step down from African Parks charity amidst abuse allegations

Apr 21, 2024 02:30 AM IST

Prince Harry is facing pressure from the author to address allegations against African Parks charity.

Prince Harry may face mounting pressure to step down from the board of an African conservation charity amidst a wave of abuse allegations.

Abuse claims prompt scrutiny of African Parks charity: What's next for Prince Harry? REUTERS/Marco Bello(REUTERS)
Abuse claims prompt scrutiny of African Parks charity: What's next for Prince Harry? REUTERS/Marco Bello(REUTERS)

African Parks, the organization in question, has come under scrutiny following allegations of misconduct by current and former staff, including claims of torture used by armed rangers to extract information from poachers.

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Author Olivier van Beemen conducted a comprehensive investigation into African Parks and ushered in the disturbing extent of the allegations in his new book, “Entrepreneurs in the Wild” by published by Prometheus Amsterdam.

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Africa is Prince Harry's ‘soul’

The Duke of Sussex has been involved with African Parks for several years, initially serving as president before being promoted to the governing board of directors in 2023. At the time, he shared responsibility for overseeing the charity's policies and management of 22 national parks in partnership with governments across African countries. Even in an recent even with Senatable, the Duke said, “Africa’s in my heart, Africa’s in my soul.”

The investigation uncovered unsettling accounts from former staff members, including ex-ranger Foster Kalunga, who described a torture method known as “kampelwa” used to extract information from suspected poachers.

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Kalunga alleged, “Sometimes we use kampelwa. Then you tie someone up, hands and feet tied together, behind his back, and you hang him on a stick between two branches. And then you spin him around while you hit him. It doesn’t last long because it hurts a lot. When he hangs there he says everything you want, even things he doesn’t know.”

African Parks disputed the allegations and claimed that Kalunga was dismissed for gross misconduct.

Other former staff members also spoke out

Etienne Koliwa, who worked in Garamba National Park, echoed similar sentiments, describing a culture of abuse and viewing poachers as “the enemy” to be “neutralized.”

African Parks defended their position, saying the author's investigation was misguided and do pay “prime” or “incentive” to motivate rangers,not the other way around.

“My investigation shows that African Parks is an opaque organisation with numerous human rights allegations made against them, including torture and rape, but is not open to external criticism. I think Prince Harry and others on the board should question the organisation’s model, its practices and governance and reconsider their own roles,” Van Beemen remarked in the author's finding.

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In response to the allegations, African Parks defended its track record and said the book is “deeply flawed”.

“African Parks has been in operation for more than 20 years, with long-term agreements with 12 different sovereign governments and numerous traditional authorities. We have received funding from most of the global institutions … all of which require detailed vetting processes, as well as intermittent grant audits,” their statement read further.

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