Intelligence gathering and undercover investigations are powerful tools to fight wildlife and forest crime and to push governments to change and/or enforce national laws, as well as regional and global treaties. Being able to work constructively with pro-active, non-corrupt law enforcement agencies is equally important.
Fighting wildlife crime is not just about awareness campaigns or deploying the latest technology to remote areas; organized, competent, and effective law enforcement is a substantial and much-needed deterrence. So is telling the complete story.
Many threats to our wildlife and forests, particularly poaching and trafficking threats, cannot be addressed only through awareness or demand reduction campaigns. Even funding and empowering rangers to protect wildlife on the ground is not enough. Due to the complexity, international reach, and organized criminal networks associated with wildlife poaching and trafficking, only professional intelligence and investigative activities can effectively shine a light on and thwart these crimes.
The result of this delicate investigative work is that EAL is able to:
Inform the public and policy makers about the means by which specific wildlife and forest crimes are performed;
Identify the players throughout the criminal networks; and
Provide national and international law enforcement with information and evidence that can lead to further investigations, arrests, and dissolution of criminal networks.
As an example, EAL’s undercover investigation in China (see Blending Ivory) not only informed the public about the crossover of illegal ivory into the legal ivory market, but also provided actionable information to Chinese and other international authorities.
Evidence-based recommendations and outcomes developed as a result of professional investigative work will ideally affect change at many levels. Crucially, nobody can be perceived to be outside of the reach of the law.