Whistle-blowing website WildLeaks targets powerful poaching networks

rhino poaching sunset
CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 RayMorris1

Wildleaks, a new website in the vein of WikiLeaks has set its sights on taking down powerful poaching networks and illegal logging operations. The site says it is the first anonymous and secure whistle-blowing site dedicated to wildlife and forest crime and it couldn't come any sooner.

Poaching has skyrocketed in recent years as the black market for rhino horn, elephant ivory and tiger parts has grown rapidly. A large part of these transactions are controlled by poweful networks of wealthy traffickers that have previously been untouchable.

The anonymous and secure nature of Wildleaks lets people give tips on poaching activity while staying safe themselves.

After it launched in February, WildLeaks received its first tip within 24 hours. To date the project has gotten over 45 tips and leaks, with at least 28 deemed to be useful, including tiger poaching in Sumatra, illegal logging in Russia and Mexico and even wildlife products being smuggled into the U.S.

"We got, for example, a very interesting leak on a very powerful individual in Kenya, linked to the government, who is behind the ivory trade," said founder Andrea Crosta, a former security consultant and longtime conservationist.

The site is able to protect whistleblowers by using encryption and anonymity software. The tips and reports are then turned over to people who can take action against these crimes like law enforcement agencies or trusted conservation organizations that specialize in those areas.

The site is targeting large poaching and trafficking operations because the founders believe it will make the greatest difference.

"Unlike others operating in the field... we are not after small-time poachers or traffickers, but the people above them, including corrupt government officials," Crosta said.

No arrests have been made yet as investigations take time, but the founders know that the more people who know about the site, the better chance they have of stopping some of these networks and saving endangered animals.

Tags: Animals | Animal Welfare | Computing | Conservation | Technology

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