The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) CEO Wayne Pacelle resigned from his position on 2 February 2018 following sexual molestation that led to donor threat to stop funding the HSUS if he did not resign.
Well-known for investigating animal rights violations worldwide, Mr. Pacelle came under investigation for alleged sexual molestation of a female employee.
Among other allegations, Mr. Pacelle is said to have requested an HSUS female if he could masturbate in front of her and also asked to perform oral sex and kiss her.
Mr. Pacelle resigned after the majority of a 31 member HSUS board members had voted to keep him as the HSUS CEO.
However, seven members of the HSUS immediately resigned on 2 February 2018 in protest of that decision.
These developments come against a background of pro-sustainable use Southern African conservationists’ ongoing argument that animal rights groups put the well being of animals above those of human beings, both at the rural community and government levels.
Under the leadership of Mr. Pacelle, the HSUS became the world’s most influential animal rights groups.
Mr. Pacelle played a lead role in raising funds for the HSUS, with $200 million being raised annually.
Pacelle’s resignation means that he has parted with his $38 000 monthly salary which was largely raised to save wildlife such as rhinos and elephants in Africa.
Sadly, Southern African rural communities that live side-by-side with animals say they have never received such money.
This suggests that most of it might have been going to pay the salaries of HSUS employees such as Pacelle.
His over $456 000 annual salary is much higher than what some private company CEOs and even that of presidents of most countries worldwide.
Mr. Pacelle and his organisation are well-known for self-righteously investigating many people worldwide for violating animal rights — then recommending their arrest.
However, many pro-sustainable use conservationists from Southern Africa also wonder why Mr Pacelle, the HSUS and other animal rights groups are not being investigated for crimes against rhinos and elephants.
These animals are in danger from poaching, but the crisis has been created and sustained by HSUS and others in their continued sponsorship of the ban of both rhino horn and ivory trade within the CITES decision-making framework.
The International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) elephant specialist group has continued to argue that a ban on ivory and any wildlife products, including rhino horn, does not stop poaching.
Through such wildlife product bans, animal rights groups should also be investigated for violating rural communities’ rights to derive revenue from rhino horn and ivory trade in their areas.
“This revenue (from rhino and elephant activities) might dry up forever, along with the conservation incentives they create to co-exist with wildlife,” said Rosie Cooney, chairwoman of IUCN‘s Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group in a recent media statement.
“So what do we do to create a future where giants have space to roam? We need to hear voices of the local people. Well-meaning people from the West need to stop shouting and start listening.”
The unjustified, unscientific and animal rights-sponsored ban on international trade in rhino horn and ivory trade continues to negatively impact on the socio-economic well-being of rural communities living side-by-side with elephants and rhinos.
The rhino and elephant conservation money, as well as money for their socio-economic well-being, is now going to poachers and animal rights groups.
Poachers are now cashing in by illegally supplying the rhino horn and ivory to a market that continues to demand them.
As the rhino and elephant poaching crisis intensifies, animal rights groups also intensify their fundraising efforts to “save” elephants and rhinos.
Worse still, because elephants and rhinos are failing to pay their way, Southern African governments are struggling to protect their rhinos and elephants against poachers who ironically are benefiting from their rhinos and elephants.
Mr Pacelle’s alleged human rights violation against someone under his employ and mentorship is strikingly and curiously similar to our continued observation that far from conserving and loving the Southern African rhinos and elephants — animal rights activists such as him and the organisations that they represent such as the HSUS, are ironically signing the death warrants of these animals through sponsoring trade bans within CITES.
Does it take the violation of an HSUS female employee’s rights and not those of the entire Southern African rural communities that have been and continue to be publicly robbed of their benefits from wildlife – to notice that they have also violated human rights in Southern Africa and also need to be investigated?
Southern Africa has a strong case against animal rights groups; for violation of human rights and also for having a hand in rhino and elephant poaching through their continued support of rhino horn and ivory bans within CITES – a UN agency that they have long scandalously captured and now control with very few people questioning this unwanted development.
Notably, the ongoing investigation into HSUS CEO’s alleged sexual violation of his own female employ has presented Southern Africans with a very strong case to also start investigating Mr Pacelle, the HSUS and other animal rights groups for their well-known crimes against rhinos and elephants and in turn the violation of rural communities’ rights from benefiting from the sale of ivory and rhino.
The millions of Southern African rural community residents and thousands of the region’s elephants and rhinos certainly have a stronger case against Mr Pacelle and other animal rights groups’ involvement in their compromised well-being. But it is Southern Africans who should call for this investigation, even if it means asking the International Court of Justice, known for prosecuting African and most non-western country leaders for crimes against humanity but not so for the animal rights groups’ well-known and now well explained criminal exploitation of Southern African people and their wildlife.
As long as Southern African rural communities do not benefit from their rhinos and elephants, they do not see the need to conserve them. It is the animal rights groups’ continued support of rhino horn and ivory trade ban in CITES that is now forcing them to collaborate with poachers for very small amounts. Small amounts that they can spend in a day, which means they are welcoming rhino and elephant poachers back into their communities and giving them almost daily safe passage into neighbouring national parks to poach rhinos and elephants. That is how fast Southern African is losing its rhinos daily, with South Africa losing over 1200 rhinos annually and other countries in the region losing hundreds of them. South Africa has the biggest rhino population in the world, well over 20 000.
To find out what rural people say about issues related to the ban on ivory trade and the USA Government’s Zimbabwe elephant hunting trophy import ban into the USA, this writer recently interviewed poor rural communities neighbouring the Hwange National Park, one of Africa’s iconic national parks with one of the highest elephant populations. It is here where one can see how communities neighbouring national parks pay for costs of living side by side with elephants but sadly, with no benefits.
The message from poor Hwange villagers in reaction to the 2014 USA Government’s Zimbabwe elephant hunting trophy imports ban in to the USA – the world’s biggest hunting market and also CITES’s animal rights sponsored ban on international trade in ivory, was: “We are now tired of living with and pay for the costs from elephants. We now want Western governments such as the USA and animal rights groups from there to come and air-lift the elephants and take them to cities like Washington DC or New York. Maybe they have space to keep them there. We are not benefiting from our elephants and there is no reason why we should continue to keep them. We appeal to President Donald Trump to lift the ban on Zimbabwe elephant hunting trophy imports into the USA and CITES to lift the ban on international trade in ivory.”
The HSUS is one of the most influential animal rights groups in the world and is credited for having significant influence over most of the wildlife management decisions made by both the USA Government and CITES.
Mr Pacelle joined the Humane Society in 1994 and was appointed its chief executive officer in 2004. According to the charity’s latest USA Internal Revenue Service information published in 2016, Mr Pacelle was paid over $456 000 annually.
This article was first published in the Herald Zimbabwe on 6 February.