Illicit wildlife trafficking is an annual 69-199 billion USD business, according to a United Nations Environment Program and INTERPOL Environmental Crime Report. This figure includes illegal trade in fishing and timber.
NWC believes that incentivizing whistleblowers, those with insider knowledge, will revolutionize the detection of wildlife crime, increase effective law enforcement and self-compliance, and help reverse the global extinction crisis. The key to incentivizing whistleblowers is whistleblower reward laws—monetary incentives for individuals to come forward with information.
We aim to protect endangered species, including terrestrial life, marine life, and forests, from illicit trade. The macro benefits of this endeavor will include greater biodiversity, ecological health, and geopolitical security. Beneficiaries will also include individuals and communities who negatively impacted by illicit networks and supply chains.
Mission and Vision
Our goal is to change the calculus of participating in wildlife crime. Through whistleblower reward laws, we can make it more lucrative to report wildlife crime than to participate in it. Our work would also serve to bolster Goal 15 of the SDGs by combatting global loss of biodiversity and reversing extinction crises.
We need partners on-the-ground to submit tips on wildlife crime. If someone has credible information relating to fraudulent customs forms, bribery of foreign officials, money wiring, video and photographic evidence of wildlife crime, among other type of evidence, they can submit such information through our anonymous and confidentialonline system. We can then help litigate their case. Note that under some whistleblower laws, NGOs can also qualify as "individuals" and submit information.
If we win the case, the whistleblower can potentially receive millions of dollars in rewards from recovered monies. The monetary reward is essential, because it not only incentivizes those with information to come forward, but also provides compensation for the physical and psychological risk an informant puts themselves through once they decide to provide information. NGOs that receive awards can use the recovered funds toward their own efforts.
Our method is novel. We are broadening the application of U.S. whistleblower reward laws to police and regulate wildlife trafficking. NWC is the first organization to engage in this kind of impact litigation.
Those who know wildlife crime best participate in it. Whistleblowers are the best source of information. Illicit crime can be difficult to track, but if you can get information from a poacher, a banker, a shipping company employee, or another individual on-the-ground, you can cut right to the heart of where and how a crime is taking place. It is a direct and effective means of combatting criminal activity.
With more and more successful cases, we predict a sea change in behavior from the individuals and corporations that participate in wildlife crime. Penalties on corporations will trigger greater self-compliance. Individuals will begin to think twice about participating in crime if more lucrative options are available.
Planned Goals and Milestones
We are working to expand our Program's capacity and staff specifically in the marine life space, to focus on illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. NWC is hoping to expand our partnerships in Latin America to focus on the protection of particular marine species such as the vaquita and totoaba.