Thursday, July 17, 2014

Conservation Group Creates WikiLeaks-style Website to Combat Poaching

Seized elephant tusks in Mombasa.

It has recently been reported that a conservation group called the Elephant Action League has created a WikiLeaks-style website called WildLeaks, in an effort to combat poaching. It is announced as the first secure online platform for informers and the public to post anonymous information about poaching in different parts of the world. The website was created by Elephant Action League's executive director Andrea Crosta. Mr. Crosta, who has been involved with conservation issues for more than twenty years, also has prior experience as a security consultant for law enforcement. In his own words, he knew that several people had solid information about wildlife crimes but did not know what to do with it. As a result, he created WildLeaks to fill the gap between the informants and authorities who have the tools to crack down on poaching. According to Mr. Crosta, the goal of WildLeaks is "to facilitate the identification, arrest, and prosecution of anybody - criminals, traffickers, businessmen, corrupt government officials - behind wildlife crime." He further added that the Elephant Action League is forging ties with law enforcement agencies to ensure that poachers end up in prison. In addition to obtaining information about wildlife crimes, WildLeaks also aims to employ a tactic associated with WikiLeaks: public shaming. Furthermore, the site has teams operating in the field so that people can personally reach the group. This helps build up a relationship with possible informants and sources in the hope that they would provide crucial information about wildlife crimes.
Elephant Action League executive director Andrea Crosta is the creator of WildLeaks.

It is extraordinary to see what new methods are being implemented in an effort to combat poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. The battle against these two environmental threats not only consists of the interception and confiscation of illegal shipments of endangered species, raids on establishments suspected of holding or selling the contraband, or direct conflicts between poachers and wildlife officials but also using advanced technology. The most notable example of sophisticated technology implemented in the battle against poaching and the wildlife trade in recent times has been the use of aerial drones to seek out poachers, but now there is a much secretive yet effective way to further combat the threats: WildLeaks. This website has been created to allow anonymous people to post information about any whereabouts of poaching and wildlife trade activities. It is hoped that the information collected would make the news and expose poachers to the media. In addition, this website is not only aimed at bringing down poachers but other people involved in poaching and wildlife trade activities. These people include businessmen, government officials, etc. Furthermore, the website even has teams working in the field so that people can personally contact the Elephant Action League regarding any activities concerning poaching and the wildlife. The website's creator Andrea Crosta indicated that the group has so far received 24 tips and information about poaching and other wildlife crimes. Although majority of the information provided concerned the ivory trade in Africa and Asia, the group also received tips about illegal logging in Russia and Central Africa, illegal fishing and poaching in the U.S, and even trafficking of chimpanzees in Liberia. With WildLeaks developed, it seems that poachers and other people involved in poaching and the wildlife trade are not safe from the watchful eyes of the law.

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