Lion populations worldwide have been in consistent decline, initially classified as vulnerable and more recently added to the Endangered Species Act. Whether killed for sale in the wildlife trafficking trade, as a hunting trophy, or in retaliation for feeding off farmers’ livestock, humans are the cause for the dwindling population. But humans can also be the solution, if given the opportunity. Today on World Lion Day, we look at four proven ways implementing whistleblower reward laws can stop the illegal wildlife trade from wiping out lions and other species from our planet.
1. People who want to do the right thing are protected.
Those who want to report wildlife crimes currently have no confidential and effective process for doing so. Whistleblower reward laws can offset the risks of reporting, and strong whistleblower programs enable informants to safely and confidentially share their information with the appropriate authorities.
2. Incentivizes others to come forward and provide valuable information on how wildlife trafficking networks operate.
Once monetary rewards for whistleblowers become more commonplace word spreads, and others will want to benefit by reporting criminal activity. Since rewards are based on the value of the information provided, there is further incentive to gather solid and credible information.
3. Uncovers underground crime that would otherwise go undetected by law enforcement.
Wildlife trafficking involves very little risk and high potential gain for traffickers, as it is incredibly difficult to detect. Whistleblower reward laws have had an incredible impact on prevention, detection, and prosecution in other similar covert crimes, from ocean pollution to tax and securities fraud.
4. Insiders can benefit more from reporting those leading the criminal networks, than participating in it.
The locals involved in wildlife trafficking are largely poor, face a lack of opportunities, and engage in the illicit trade to earn very low wages. Given the opportunity to earn a higher financial payout, they could be incentivized to turn in the criminal masterminds higher up the chain. Once awareness is spread of the potentially huge financial payout, the risk of being turned in by others within the trade increases for trafficking kingpins.
The bottom line is we know that reward laws work—the success of existing whistleblower reward programs in helping to combat fraud, ocean pollution from ships, and securities and tax violations is undeniable!
The “impact” of the reward laws “has been nothing short of profound. “Effective whistleblower programs are a “tremendously effective force-multiplier, generating high quality tips, and in some cases virtual blueprints laying out an entire enterprise.” (Eric Holder, Former Attorney General)
At the current rate of decline, shocking reports have warned of the possible extinction of lions by 2050. The U.S. government has had the power to set up a wildlife crime whistleblower program to implement these laws for over thirty years! At this point we cannot afford to let any more time pass, or we may face a future without lions.