Prince Harry Faces Pressure to Quit African Parks Board



by ZAIN UL ABEDIN

Prince Harry Faces Pressure to Quit African Parks Board
© WPA Pool/Getty Images

Prince Harry, the Duke of Suss-x, is currently facing calls to resign from the board of African Parks, a nonprofit conservation organization, amid alarming allegations of abuse by its rangers against indigenous people in Africa.

This concerning development follows a recent investigation by the Mail on Sunday, which reported that guards employed by African Parks have been accused of raping, beating, and torturing the Baka people, an indigenous group residing in the Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Republic of Congo.

The investigation highlighted the severe restrictions imposed on the Baka people, who have historically relied on the forest for foraging, fishing, hunting, and medicinal purposes. The accusations include a tragic incident where a Baka man allegedly died after being beaten and detained without medical care, and a harrowing account of a woman who claimed she was raped by an armed guard while holding her newborn baby.

Other allegations involve claims of a teenage boy being groomed for prostitution, a man who reported being whipped and submerged underwater, and reports of medical staff being intimidated to conceal these abuses. The timeline of these alleged atrocities, however, remains undisclosed.

Harry Faces Board Dilemma

Prince Harry's involvement with African Parks began in 2016, leading to his appointment as president in 2017. In 2023, after six years in this role, he was elevated to an officially appointed member of the Board of Directors.

The organization, which manages 22 national parks and protected areas across various African countries, works in collaboration with governments and local communities to sustain these parks. Amid these allegations, Survival International, a London-based human rights group advocating for indigenous and tribal peoples, reached out to Prince Harry in May 2023.

They communicated their concerns regarding the abuse of the Baka people by African Parks' armed guards. The Duke of Suss-x reportedly responded promptly, promising to escalate the issue to the highest levels of the organization, including CEO Peter Fearnhead, a guest at Prince Harry's wedding to Meghan Markle.

However, African Parks contends that they initiated an immediate investigation into these claims and has expressed disappointment in Survival International's alleged lack of cooperation. Despite repeated requests for assistance, the organization states that Survival International has not provided necessary information.

African Parks' Official Response

In response to the growing controversy, African Parks issued a statement emphasizing its zero-tolerance policy for abuse and reiterating its commitment to protecting the rights of local and indigenous populations.

The statement outlined the organization's immediate action to investigate the allegations through an external law firm, while also urging anyone with knowledge of abuses to report them to assist the investigation and bring perpetrators to justice.

The Duke of Suss-x's representative declined to comment on these developments, and as of now, Survival International has not responded to requests for further comments. The situation remains a high priority for African Parks, as they strive to address these serious allegations and uphold their commitment to ethical conservation practices.

Prince Harry