Wildlife-related crimes comprise the fourth largest category of international crimes, after drugs and trafficking in humans and arms. A new, anonymous reporting tool helps whistleblowers fight back.
At The Guardian, journalist Damian Carrington writes:
The WildLeaks website, which uses Tor technology to ensure anonymity, has been set up by Andrea Crosta, a security consultant who first revealed how the al-Shabaab terrorist group in Somalia generated funds via ivory smuggling.
The slaughter of elephants, rhinos, tigers and other species has surged in the last decade, part of an illicit wildlife trade worth $10-20bn a year according to Interpol. Only drugs, people and arms trafficking earn more for criminals and the corruption and violence accompanying wildlife crime takes a heavy toll on local communities.
"We had our first tip within 24 hours and the response has been beyond our wildest imagination," said Crosta, now executive director of the Elephant Action League. He said the pervasive corruption means that whistleblowers frequently fear that contacting local law enforcement could put their lives in danger. "You can't, for example, export containers full of ivory from Mombasa without bribing people left, right and centre," Crosta told the Guardian. "We definitely feel we are filling a gap."
In the three months that the site has been operational, WildLeaks has received at least twenty-four solid tips ranging from elephant poaching and the illegal ivory trade, to illegal trophy hunts, illegal trafficking in chimpanzees, illegal logging and fishing activities, the illegal import of banned African wildlife products into the US, and more.
Those who suffer from wildlife crimes aren't just wildlife; they're people too. The WildLeaks site explains that "ivory and rhino horn traffic increasingly involves organized crime syndicates, and in some cases rebel militia and terrorist groups."
The site is available in 16 languages, and a mobile app is being developed. Every tip is vetted by a panel of experts. WildLeaks is currently overseeing three separate investigations related to the ivory trade.
Read the entire article at The Guardian:
Header image: Monika Betley/Wikimedia Commons