Environmental Whistleblowers

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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This is a multi-part series on the Whistleblower Protection Blog covering the Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act of 2018. 

On May 8, 2018, Representative Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU) and Don Young (R-AK), introduced H.R. 5697, the Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act (WCATA) of 2018. The bipartisan bill will “support wildlife conservation, improve anti-trafficking enforcement, [and] provide dedicated funding for wildlife conservation at no expense to the taxpayer.” It includes critical whistleblower provisions necessary to incentivize informants to risk their careers (or their lives) to report trafficking.


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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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Today the National Whistleblower Center is excited to celebrate World Wildlife Day, a day that commemorates the signing of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) 45 years ago in Washington, D.C. CITES was an important step forward in promoting the protection of wildlife and biodiversity around the world. While this is a day to celebrate, we should also remember that wildlife is currently under threat like never before. We are currently in the midst of a global extinction crisis.

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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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