“African elephant populations have fallen from an estimated 12 million a century ago to around 350,000,” according to The Wildlife Trafficking Alliance (WTA). Although many Asian elephants do not have tusks, they are still vulnerable to poaching and trafficking because of their use in the tourism industry and demand for their skin, “used in traditional medicine and shaped into polished beads to make jewelry.”
Whistleblower attorney Kelsey Condon highlights various U.S. reward laws that are “uniquely designed to combat such crimes in a recent National Law Review article. These laws provide incentives for whistleblowers with high-quality information to assist law enforcement in stopping criminal networks.”
Scott Hajost, Senior Wildlife Policy Advisor for the National Whistleblower Center, thinks that rewarding and protecting wildlife whistleblowers is essential to fighting wildlife crimes. In a 2018 article, he details how whistleblower successes in corporate and financial fraud cases could be replicated in the wildlife trafficking business. “If we make reporting crime more lucrative than participating in it, there will be a sea change in how the wildlife crime industry operates,” wrote Hajost.
Strides are already being made to protect wildlife whistleblowers and promote whistleblowing to fight wildlife crime. The National Whistleblower Center’s Global Wildlife Whistleblower Program, a winner of the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge, works to educate about wildlife whistleblowing and provide aid to individuals who want to blow the whistle on wildlife crime and illegal trafficking.
This year, on World Elephant Day, let’s work towards a prosperous future for magnificent African and Asian elephants by protecting and rewarding wildlife whistleblowers.