Wildlife crime whistleblowers can dismantle the wildlife trafficking networks that threaten global biodiversity. Insiders have the potential to reverse the extinction crisis.
The NWC seeks to transform dormant whistleblower provisions in U.S. wildlife protection laws, and use existing whistleblower programs, to facilitate effective enforcement of the law and deter wildlife traffickers.
Whistleblowers have been recognized for their role in fighting fraud and corruption since the False Claims Act was passed in 1863. In 2015, National Whistleblower Center Executive Director Stephen Kohn, discovered whistleblower reward provisions in the Endangered Species Act and the Lacey Act. After learning that these provisions were not being utilized by the agencies empowered with their implementation (the Departments of Interior, Commerce, Treasury, and Agriculture), the NWC embarked on a mission to empower wildlife crime whistleblowers as a global force to combat the extinction crisis.
The NWC’s Global Wildlife Whistleblower Program strives to develop organizational support for whistleblowers everywhere who report wildlife trafficking, illegal logging, and illegal fishing to the appropriate U.S. authorities. This entails advocating for the creation of wildlife whistleblower programs within the agencies responsible for enforcing wildlife protection laws, as well as utilizing existing whistleblower programs in the prevention, detection, and prosecution of wildlife crime.
The NWC is also working with conservation and environmental protection stakeholders to educate the public about monetary rewards for reporting wildlife trafficking. By working with NGOs all over the world, NWC hopes to establish the relationships and trust with local communities to encourage potential whistleblowers to confidentially report information on wildlife trafficking. Additionally, the NWC has created the first Wildlife Whistleblower Attorney Referral Service—connecting potential wildlife whistleblowers with legal representation.
Through public outreach, research, and client representation, the NWC is making big strides in activating wildlife crime whistleblowers as a new approach to fighting global wildlife trafficking and other wildlife crimes.
Public outreach: A variety of tools such as social media, email, webinars, radio broadcasts, and blog posts have been used to inform the public about the opportunity to receive a reward for blowing the whistle on wildlife crime. The NWC created an online petition to enable members of the public to show their support for creating an office where wildlife crime whistleblowers can report information and apply for whistleblower rewards under U.S. wildlife protection laws, and over 20,000 supporters have already signed on.
Research: NWC staff members have conducted in-depth research into the history behind the wildlife protection law whistleblower provisions. This research has been shared with government agencies, elected officials, and other stakeholders to demonstrate longstanding recognition of the value of engaging whistleblowers when enforcing wildlife protection laws.
Client representation: The NWC has helped a number of clients develop cases concerning trafficking activities in Vietnam, Uganda, Honduras, and Tanzania, among others. NWC is also recruiting attorneys to build a network of lawyers ready to represent wildlife whistleblowers. Additionally, the NWC operates several technology applications that facilitate secure reporting by wildlife whistleblowers.
- Over 20,000 supporters calling for creation of a wildlife crime whistleblower office.
- Over 30 blog posts exploring the issues around wildlife trafficking.
- 16 attorney members in the first Wildlife Whistleblower Attorney Referral Service.
- Presentations made at the IUCN World Congress, Earth Day Texas, Rethinking Animals Summit, and Capitol Hill, in addition to a number of other seminars and webinars.
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