Environmental Whistleblowers

Seven major federal environmental laws (Clean Air, Toxic Substances, Clean Water, Atomic Energy, Solid Waste, Safe Drinking Water and Superfund) have special provisions protecting employee whistleblowers.

“Only if we understand can we care. Only if we care will we help. Only if we help shall they be saved.” – Jane Goodall

On July 14, 1960, Jane Goodall first stepped foot in Gombe Stream National Park. Over the past 58 years, Goodall has taught humans around the world to understand, care about, and help chimpanzees. For this reason, July 14th is marked as World Chimpanzee Day.

Today, our closest biological cousin is an endangered species.

Since 2015, chimpanzees have been classified as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service. Today, only 172,700 to 299,700 chimps are believed to remain; the population of western chimpanzees has decreased about 80% over the past quarter century. Human activities, including poaching, have been central to the precipitous drop in population. Not only are chimps slaughtered for bush meat, which is sold for profit in local marketplaces, but infant chimps are also kidnapped to be sold as pets. Other forms of human interaction with the environment such as logging have been detrimental to chimpanzee populations as they lead to habitat destruction.


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WASHINGTON, D.C. | July 5th, 2018—A group rallied outside the Embassy of Mexico on Thursday morning, urging the Mexican government to protect the vaquita, a porpoise native to the country’s waters. Representatives from the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), and other concerned persons braved the blistering summer weather and joined forces to shed light on the rapidly declining population of the rare porpoise. Signs with phrases such as SAVE THE VAQUITA and FEWER THAN 30 LEFT, written in both Spanish and English, were held by the group, who wore shirts reading “Extinction is Forever.” Some members of the rally took to the street with signs raised above their heads, trying to grab the attention of passing cars.

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The two organizations join forces to combat wildlife trafficking around the globe

THE HAGUE / WASHINGTON, D.C. | May 24th, 2018 The Wildlife Justice Commission (WJC) and National Whistleblower Center (NWC) have signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a framework for cooperation, develop joint endeavors, and exchange information with regards to transnational wildlife crime.


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The Securities and Exchange Commission building, located in Washington, D.C.

Members of Congress are urging the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) to investigate the illegal trafficking of wildlife on Facebook. On May 14th, Representatives Raul Grijalva (AZ) and Jared Huffman (CA) filed a letter to the SEC saying that Facebook was breaking laws that require public companies to protect shareholders and prevent illegal activity. The letter demanded an investigation into the illegal wildlife trafficking on Facebook.

D.C.-based law firm Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto (KKC) sparked the Congressional inquiry after filing a complaint with the SEC alleging the social media giant facilitates illicit trade in wildlife products. KKC previously filed the anonymous complaint against Facebook in August 2017.


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Panamanian Golden Frog (Atelopus zeteki) is already extinct in the wild.

At the annual Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Reception, Capitol Hill got an up-close and personal view of just how important, and fascinating, biodiversity is to our planet. During the event, members of Congress spoke about wildlife trafficking and efforts to protect endangered species, and AZA representatives discussed how zoos and aquariums provide information about wildlife conservation to the public.


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Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) whistleblower law brings dividends

WASHINGTON, D.C. | May 11, 2018—In an analysis of 100 recent Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) prosecutions available on Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER), court records reveal that whistleblowers were responsible for over 75% of all successful cases in the years ranging from 1993-2017. Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto LLP (KKC) completed this review in order to provide a snapshot of how the whistleblower reward provision has been implemented in APPS cases.

According to a statistical analysis conducted by KKC, the United States obtained over $270 million in sanctions from 100 polluters and paid 206 whistleblowers a total of more than $33 million in rewards under APPS. Additionally, over $63 million was ordered by courts to be used for beneficial purposes in fighting ocean pollution. Organizations that received restitutions include the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, and Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.


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An AP news story reports that an anonymous whistleblower has filed a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) alleging that Facebook is facilitating and profiting from illegal wildlife trafficking on its social media platform. The anonymous whistleblower’s attorneys at Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto, LLP, (KKC) issued a press release and statements from the whistleblower. The full press release can be read here.

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The Hindustan Times has recently published a story on a 60-ton illegal timber seizure in Maharashtra, India that was initiated by a whistleblower. Since May 2017, over 500 tons of illegally-cut timber have been seized by authorities in the west-central Indian state. The value of the timber seized over the past 11 months is an estimated 20 million Indian rupees, or approximately $308,000 USD.

The tip-off led to not only the seizure of 30 tons each of teak and khair wood, but also the closure of an illegal saw mill that was functioning as a timber depot. The seizure demonstrates the powerful role whistleblowers play in combatting the illicit timber trade.


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The National Whistleblower Center (NWC) is proud to announce that Scott Hajost has been named the new managing director of the NWC’s Global Wildlife Whistleblower Program. Mr. Hajost will work to forge new partnerships, both in the U.S. and globally, to refer and protect whistleblowers in the areas of wildlife crime, including illegal logging and fishing.

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Esmond Martin, after decades of working undercover investigating the illegal wildlife trade, was found stabbed to death in his Nairobi home earlier this week.

Martin was an extraordinarily intelligent man. An American geographer from New York, Martin published books and extensive reports on Kenya, Tanzania, Vietnam, and Laos. But it may have been Martin’s bravery that got him killed.


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