A new website with the provocative title Wildleaks is encouraging people who know about wildlife and forest ‘crimes’ to report them anonymously so that the group can turn them into actionable items while protecting the identity of the whistleblower. The site is operated by a group of individuals with funding from the California-based Elephant Action League.
The site defines forest crime as illegal logging and the international trade in illegally logged timber. It states that forest crime:
- has a significant Human Toll as it impedes sustainable development in some of the poorest countries of the world.
- costs governments billions of dollars, promotes corruption, and funds armed conflict.
- is responsible for up to 17% of all human-made greenhouse gas emissions, 50% more than that from ships, aviation and land transport combined.
- can also have huge financial implications for a country. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, in Indonesia illegal logging and forest-sector mismanagement resulted in losses to the Indonesian government of more than US$7 billion between 2007 and 2011.
- creates social conflict with indigenous and local populations and leads to violence, crime, corruption, human exploitation and human rights abuses. It is estimated that some 1.6 billion people worldwide depend on forests for their livelihood and 60 million peoples depend on forests for their subsistence.
Poaching and illegal trade of wildlife is said to be a cause of:
- people dying and getting injured (e.g., rangers, law enforcement officers, villagers, poachers).
- people encouraged or forced to engage in criminal activities (e.g., breaking the law, possession and use of weapons, bribery, corruption).
- exploitation of vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.
- families losing the breadwinners (e.g., due to death, injury, incarceration) – orphans & widows.
- conflict (e.g., financing terrorism and rebel militia).
- other related criminal activities (e.g., threatening the rangers and their families, money laundering, tax evasion).
The site uses the Tor browser, software built to enable people to navigate the Internet anonymously, in order to facilitate the submission of information without revealing the identity of the sender.
Wildleaks is at https://wildleaks.org/