The world’s first wildlife and forest crime whistleblowing initiative
On February 7th, 2014, the Elephant Action League (EAL) launched WildLeaks, one of the most innovative and successful initiatives ever launched to fight wildlife crime.
In around 3 years, and despite having a modest budget for marketing & communication, WildLeaks received over 120 confidential submissions, generated four investigations, and shared more than 20 confidential exchanges of information with other NGOs or law enforcement agencies.
WildLeaks is a nonprofit collaborative project created and funded by EAL and managed directly by EAL’s co-founder, Mr. Andrea Crosta, with the support of a few professionals who collaborate during the assessment and post-assessment phases.
Information within the WildLeaks initiative is highly compartmentalized and is not shared with the rest of the organization.
The Mission of WildLeaks is to receive and evaluate anonymous information and tips regarding wildlife crime, including corruption, and transform them into concrete actions. Our purpose is to prevent wildlife crimes and to facilitate the identification, arrest, and prosecution of criminals, traffickers, businessmen, and corrupt governmental officials behind the poaching of endangered species and the trafficking of wildlife and forest products, including ivory, rhino horn, big cats, apes, pangolins, birds, fishes and illegal timber.
All information is assessed and validated in a very scrupulous manner, including the use of intelligence methodologies, a vast network of contacts, and the latest technologies. We also put a significant amount of effort into protecting the people who choose to send us information, not only by providing a state-of-the-art secure anonymous system, but also by managing and using the information professionally.
WildLeaks, in collaboration with the Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights, has implemented a secure online anonymous submission platform built on the Tor technology in order to allow users to stay anonymous and to submit ‘sensitive information’ as securely as possible, always encrypted, in respect to data transmission and management.
WildLeaks is not just a passive platform. It is an extremely very pro-active initiative with a solid investigative component and a diverse of intelligence gathering assets in target countries.
Unlike other leaks-based websites, such as WikiLeaks, WildLeaks does NOT dump unfiltered data and information onto the web and does NOT pander for media headlines. We instead use the information received to facilitate action in the field by both NGOs and governmental agencies.
Specifically, we review, evaluate, and filter all information received through Wildleaks before releasing any of the data to outside parties. In many instances, the leaks provide us with enough information to begin a field investigation, in which case the data may not be released to the public at all until the investigation is complete. Instead, the information is only shared with applicable law enforcement agencies and other NGOs for immediate action on the ground. Unlike other ‘leaks’ organizations, at WildLeaks, we view non-corrupt, assertive law enforcement agencies as our partners, not our enemies, and work with these agencies to bring wildlife and forest criminals to justice.
Possible monetary reward from the U.S. government
If you have confidential information regarding wildlife crime, you may be entitled to a monetary reward from the U.S. government. Various laws in the U.S., such as the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Lacey Act, include reward conditions that direct certain government departments, like the Fish and Wildlife Service, to pay individuals who provide information that leads to successful enforcement action. Learn more about our collaboration with the National Whistleblower Center in Washington D.C..
Under those laws, we strongly recommends coming to us as we can act as an intermediary between the person with information and the US government, thus protecting the source’s identity and at the same time collecting the monetary reward for him/her. This includes also hiring a US attorney to follow the case and obtain the monetary reward. In other words, WildLeaks and the Elephant Action League (EAL) will assist you through the process while ensuring total confidentiality. Click here for more information.
Have a look here at a selection of leads and leaks received during the first 24-month pilot phase. The next report, about the first three years of WildLeaks, will be published in June 2017.
WildLeaks helps other NGOs
WildLeaks has also created opportunities for EAL to broaden its impact through collaboration with other NGOs. We provide the platform’s services and our team free-of-charge to other wildlife and forestry conservation organizations as they address their various agendas.
By promoting the use of WildLeaks, they create opportunities for their specific constituencies to become involved with fighting wildlife crime.
Partner organizations already benefitting from this collaboration include:
1. The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (FANC) in support of their antipoaching activities
2. The Wildlife Justice Commission in The Hague, The Netherlands
3. The TREES Project (Timber Regulation Enforcement to protect European wood Sector from criminal infiltration)
Several partners and collaborators are confidential for security reasons.
In 2014 WildLeaks was a winner of the Nominet Trust 100 award “Tech for Good” in recognition of both the credibility of the concept and the potential still to be realized.