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Fox-Owned National Geographic Uses Gorillas as Cover for Exploitation of Congo

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Yet, National Geographic quotes Emmanuel de Merode of Wildlife Direct as an encyclopedic source, and does not question De Merode’s hyperbole that “Virunga is the greatest national park on the planet.” Is the reader of National Geographic supposed to take this as a fact? Where is the rebuttal? Where is the vetting?

Is the fresh faced, white Belgian de Merode actually a public relations spinner for the Virunga Park—including the covert military operations in place there? Emmanuel de Merode is currently “on tour” in the United States with a National Geographic dog and pony show which is “premiering” a related video on the gorilla story that appears on FOX-owned National Geographic Channel. FOX Broadcasting is owned by Rupert Murdock’s news corporation. This is the same network that is ginning up support for an invasion of Iran as it did with Iraq. What is even more amazing is that PBS and the Charlie Rose Program have bought FOX’s version of Congo hook, line and sinker.

Is this the same technique used by MCA to sell a sordid “biography” of Dian Fossey on the networks in 1988? Linda Berkeley, now Executive Vice-President of National Geographic, was chairman of MCA Universal, having joined the company in 1990.

Is National Geographic recreating a page from the past when it opened its cartographic archives to the Unites States World War II effort, providing intelligence and about enemy held territory and strategic interests? The Virunga Mountains, home of the mountain gorilla, straddles one of the most strategic pieces of real estate on the planet.

Why the huge Public Relations pitch for biodiversity—code for multinational interests and land grabs that rival what the United States did to the Native American Indian population? National Geographic oddly describes Wildlife Direct as a “nascent” organization, but fails to make the connection that the gorilla killings began shortly after Wildlife Direct arrived on the scene in DRC in late 2006.

It is a little like blaming the American Indian for the demise of the buffalo as the pioneers pushed west.

Virunga Elephant © G. Nienaber

War and Torture Funds from Piggy Banks

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Based in Nairobi, Kenya, Wildlife Direct was founded by Richard Leakey as a “joint project” with Wildlife Direct, Inc., a non-profit registered in the United States, and Africa Conservation Fund (UK), which is a registered charity.

Training of ICCN and Wildlife Direct’s elite “Congo Rangers” was funded by the European Union, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, UNESCO, the London Zoological Society, and the Frankfurt Zoological Society and managed under the technical guidance of former British mercenary Conrad Thorpe. This is all documented in a video available on the World Wide Web at “Congo 2006: Guns for Hire.” This video will figure into our discussion.

Leaky does not come to the equation without controversy. Both pitied and admired for his survival of a plane crash where sabotage has not been ruled out, Leakey lost both of his legs in the accident. In the spring of 1994, Leakey resigned or was forced out of his post as director of the Kenya Wildlife Service. The reason? Leakey was accused by the Kenyan government of favoring the wildlife interests over the needs and interests of local subsistence farmers. There are also allegations of financial mismanagement. Not missing a beat, Leakey formed his own political party, Safina, which is Swahili for “Noah’s Ark.”

So certain is Leakey of the world’s interest in wildlife over human concerns that he is quoted on his own webpage saying, “I believe there are tens of millions of people out there who care about wildlife and would be willing to make a two dollar donation to secure the future of wildlife.”

This background information is in itself a glaring omission, especially since Wildlife Direct has a blog that directly solicits money from school children in the United States. It seems as if USAID, the European Union, and Frankfurt Zoological Society funding for the elite Congo Rangers is not enough to fill the coffers. National Geographic omits this important background information.

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Vanishing Web Links Whitewash History

There was no investigative scrutiny of the trustees of the Africa Wildlife Foundation, whose most prominent member is or was Walter Kansteiner III. Kansteiner is not a conservationist. He has over 20 years of experience in African and emerging market issues, advising corporations on mergers ranging from forestry, to mining to aviation. Kansteiner has publicly attacked South Africa’s Nelson Mandela as a “Marxist.” Kansteiner has also worked in the arena of strategic mineral procurement for the United States Defense Department. As of 2007, Kansteiner was listed on Source Watch (Center for Media and Democracy) as a director of Wildlife Direct, and Emmanuel de Merode identified Kansteiner as a board member in an email in 2007. Kansteiner has since vanished from the web links to Wildlife Direct. The Source Watch page was modified to remove Kansteiner in November 2007 after independent media reports linked him with Wildlife Direct.

Congo Mineral Rush

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Georgianne Nienaber is an investigative environmental and political writer. She lives in rural northern Minnesota, New Orleans and South Florida. Her articles have appeared in The Society of Professional Journalists' Online Quill (more...)

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Buffalo don't roam. Wild horses are going the... by Margaret Bassett on Monday, Jul 14, 2008 at 6:11:51 PM
There is an 800 pound gorilla in the room and its ... by Georgianne Nienaber on Monday, Jul 14, 2008 at 6:18:57 PM
I was wondering why we haven't heard from you,... by Mr M on Monday, Jul 14, 2008 at 10:43:29 PM
 This message came through on animal rights s... by Georgianne Nienaber on Monday, Jul 14, 2008 at 10:51:06 PM
One of the reasons 9/11 is gaining traction is bec... by Mr M on Tuesday, Jul 15, 2008 at 12:22:05 AM
reading an account of the Sappa Creek Indian Massa... by Georgianne Nienaber on Tuesday, Jul 15, 2008 at 12:30:32 AM
Geez Georgianne. The guy says we're anti-ameri... by Rob Kall on Tuesday, Jul 15, 2008 at 7:10:48 AM
It opened a dialogue on the site with about ten pe... by Georgianne Nienaber on Tuesday, Jul 15, 2008 at 7:40:52 AM
 There are some people on Care2 who are sadis... by Mark E. Smith on Tuesday, Jul 15, 2008 at 11:44:01 AM
"History is written by the victors." (Ch... by Meryl Ann Butler on Tuesday, Jul 15, 2008 at 4:35:17 PM
Terrific article Georgianne! You ought to be nomin... by Mac McKinney on Monday, Jul 14, 2008 at 11:19:38 PM
What I really want to do is nominate Lucinda Willi... by Georgianne Nienaber on Monday, Jul 14, 2008 at 11:21:16 PM
how about a link to her work?... by Rob Kall on Tuesday, Jul 15, 2008 at 7:57:51 AM
Doesn't Fosse herself get smeared by the paint... by Steve Consilvio on Tuesday, Jul 15, 2008 at 8:06:58 AM
Dian Fossey has been dead since 1985 and did not h... by Georgianne Nienaber on Tuesday, Jul 15, 2008 at 8:26:19 AM
SENT TO OEN EDITOR:I'm amazed such a rambling,... by Todd Bondy on Tuesday, Jul 15, 2008 at 8:35:49 AM
Summarize it in plain English if you truly wish a ... by Georgianne Nienaber on Tuesday, Jul 15, 2008 at 8:54:26 AM
The knowledge that National Geographic is owned by... by Roger on Tuesday, Jul 15, 2008 at 8:57:26 AM
The National Geographic channel is majority (2/3) ... by Georgianne Nienaber on Tuesday, Jul 15, 2008 at 9:13:00 AM
Ace reporter strikes again!Thanks,Editilla~New Orl... by Bruce Biles on Tuesday, Jul 15, 2008 at 12:36:14 PM
On my way back to you in a few weeks. I hear no ne... by Georgianne Nienaber on Tuesday, Jul 15, 2008 at 12:44:18 PM
Now people that say National Geographic and the Hi... by Orwells Ghost on Tuesday, Jul 15, 2008 at 2:56:10 PM
You are one of the few people I have encountered w... by Georgianne Nienaber on Tuesday, Jul 15, 2008 at 3:37:19 PM
Congratulations Georgianne on a very well written ... by John Haigh on Wednesday, Jul 16, 2008 at 8:01:23 AM
How to Keep Gorillas in Existence. A very interest... by Kitty Antonik Wakfer on Wednesday, Jul 16, 2008 at 8:40:46 PM
Wow, I've got to hand it to you -- this was a ... by File Cabinet on Thursday, Jul 17, 2008 at 3:37:39 PM