Biologist Julian Huxley and ornithologist Peter Scott were the principal founders of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in 1961. The first Director General of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization), Huxley was inspired to initiate WWF when he returned from a research trip to Africa, where he claimed to have witnessed a continent plagued by habitat destruction and the extermination of big game species from hunting and other causes. Peter Scott, who served as WWF's first Chairman, also founded the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.
WWF's international headquarters are in Gland, Switzerland, and the organization has 28 national branches. The U.S. branch maintains its headquarters in Washington, D.C. William K. Reilly is the current Board Chair of WWF-US, and Kathryn Fuller is the current President. Fuller also chairs the Executive Committee of the Ford Foundation's Board of Trustees. In 1986, WWF International renamed itself the Worldwide Fund for Nature but continues to use its original name in the U.S. and Canada. In 1991, it merged with the Conservation Foundation. WWF has 1.2 million members in the U.S., and another 4 million worldwide.
The World Wildlife Fund pursues three global objectives: "saving endangered species, protecting endangered habitats, and addressing global threats such as toxic pollution, over-fishing and climate change." The organization conducts campaigns in more than 100 countries worldwide.
WWF's Endangered Species initiative focuses mostly on what it calls "flagship species" -- whales, tigers, giant pandas, dolphins, elephants, rhinos, marine turtles, and great apes. According to WWF, "helping them helps numerous other species that live in the same habitats." WWF also works to protect "numerous species in peril around the world that live within [its] priority ecoregions," including snow leopards, grizzly bears, whooping cranes, songbirds, and many others. WWF does not itself determine which species are considered endangered, but rather relies on the Red List of Threatened Species compiled by the World Conservation Union.
In 1973 the World Wildlife Fund established Project Tiger to preserve tiger habitat in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, and established marine sanctuaries for whales and dolphins. Six years later the organization garnered much publicity for its work with the Chinese government to save pandas. In 1985 WWF was one of the many environmental groups that secured a ban on whaling. Today it promotes various "debt-for-nature" campaigns in which part of a developing country's international debt payments are redirected toward funding conservation. Such "debt-for-nature" programs are currently active in Bhutan, Laos, Madagascar, and Vietnam.
WWF supports the Kyoto accord and the global warming hypothesis on which it is based. The organization also emphasizes "sustainable growth," a theory whose goals invariably come with a demand for population control, a euphemism for abortion-on-demand.
In past years WWF argued against the use of the pesticide DDT in poorer countries, but because of the devastation of malaria, it now supports the pesticide's limited use.
WWF received over $30 million in foundation grants between 1994 and 2004. Leading contributors include the Blue Moon Fund, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Energy Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the Minneapolis Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Summit Foundation, the Turner Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and many others. WWF also realizes substantial income from private donations and its sale of periodicals. As of 2004, the organization's net assets totaled $169,065,633." Its revenues that year were $112,001,561.
WWF's public relations are handled by David Fenton (of Fenton Communications).