All living beings that are here among us have a right to live, rather- to living. In fact so cogent is this idea in its universality and pliability that for all practical purposes it cannot be discolored by subjectivity or any form of reasoning. You are born and hence, you should live, you have every right to it. You should be given all the support, love and amicability as your fellow human beings.
The Right to Live isn’t exclusive for Humans alone
Nowhere can this right to life be negated or disputed. Also, implicit in the idea of life and living- is a call for parity, that logically metes out equal and fair treatment toward the integrity of all living beings. That you are a human being and therefore you should alone have this exclusive right to live and grow and, reproduce over that of other living beings is truth half baked. Worst still, it is a hazardous theory of life. The fact that the Fauna, the refined representation of the word ‘animals’ too has the same right to life and grow and hence, continue the cycle of life as that of Flora completes truth. And if this parity of the idea of life between Humans and Wild, which is but a mortal reality of living beings isn’t maintained- then it disorients, disturbs and laments the equilibrium of life.
Not all is fair and in harmony on Earth for its life forms
But this is Planet Earth. Nowhere does the applicability of morality and integrity of all beings living is maintained in harmony. Not always. And hence, universality of the principle of life being just and equal for all is nothing but a shadow of the very idea. As the famous saying goes- the truth is often stranger than fiction. This cannot be any truer than what it is in the context of the state of Wildlife today, as we sit cushioned, comfortably within the charming confines of our households and as we opine in the best of our intellectual abilities on the subject matter of ” the state of Wildlife”. It won’t be incorrect to construe that it we, the mankind, one gifted with sound mind and intelligence have discolored the life of the wild. We haven’t done justice to maintain the decorum of the most potent and precious representations of life here on earth apart from the facet of love; Wildlife.
Not all of us are bound by a law that states that we must love the Wild. But, if we can’t love animals, the shining custodians of harmony and amity between nature and mankind, then which law are we adhering to as we subject Wildlife to inhuman and treacherous treatment?
The fact that in a World already plagued by dozens of socio-cultural, economic and developmental problems that have their tentacles in every part of the globe even as some nations prosper on the grounds of proliferation of scientific, infrastructural, technological developments, it puts a sorry picture when reads that- Wildlife Crimes are the 4th largest trans-national crimes in the world, with an annual spillage, generated illegally and heartlessly from this grave crime measuring up to a massive 17 Billion US dollars, each year. (source: earthtransition.org)
Illegal hunting, Poaching, Animal butchery and unlawful selling of Animal body parts across the world have resulted in a global trade, malicious and abjectly redundant in morality and in its very being- that has its tentacles in all parts of the globe. A crime of epic proportions and a disregard so savage toward the state of Wildlife , this malaise has enveloped an entire world, consuming the most gifted and even the least developed nations- in the wake of its destruction.
A Dark Knight Rises to fight Wildlife Crimes
Yet, at the same time, there are some gifted people among us, brave in their pursuit toward preservation of Wildlife and driven toward bringing perpetrators of this grave undoing to justice, who by virtue of sheer commitment and mind- boggling determination to fight this crime have taken this important cause in their own hands. They are the “Justice league” so to speak in the battle between the Good and Evil, who by virtue of their intellectual providence and through their earnest pursuit toward safeguarding the Wild- have established an eminent and path-breaking measure to put a halt and at best, bring to justice- these massive crimes committed for against Wildlife.
We at What’s Up Life, are proud to bring the story of the hitherto celebrated unsung heroes, The Elephant Action League. In our conversation with these brave-hearts who are fighting a rancid turf war against criminals and perverse beings who are busy battering the wild, we learnt of the activist group par excellence wrapped in the body of a professional organization chassis that is deploying a checkered marquee of activities, brave and noble to the core- aligned to bring social and moral justice toward the cause of conserving and preserving the life and ethos of Wildlife. Here’s an introduction followed by our heart-warming Q&A with these modern day gladiators.
Fighting tirelessly toward the cause for upholding respect and integrity of our beautiful Wildlife, a visual spectacle and a reason of delight to many of us in a world divided by caste, creed and indifference toward the wild, is Elephant Action League, a unique kind of an NGO. Here wildlife protection & conservation merge with decades of professional experience vested in risk management, high-level security and intelligence operations that work to prevent the butchery meted out to innocent wild animals.
Fighting against a modern day human catastrophe are the League’s ensemble of professionally run intelligence and investigative activists, pivotal tools that initiate the fightback against the mindless crimes committed against the wild.
According to its principles, Intelligence is the knowledge – ideally the foreknowledge – which the organization and its partners must have to safeguard wildlife and people, to respond to very concrete threats to the environment and to us all.
Deploying nuanced professional measures to fight Wildlife crimes
The Elephant Action League (EAL) is involved in several field projects throughout Africa and it constantly raises funds to be able to provide support, equipment, consultancy and training to local organizations and wildlife law enforcement agencies. Professionally run intelligence and investigative activities are the most important tools we have to fight back. Intelligence is the knowledge – ideally the foreknowledge – which the organization and its partners must have to safeguard wildlife and people, to respond to very concrete threats to the environment and to us all.
On a technical note, the EAL are a registered American nonprofit, tax-exempt charity 501(c)(3) battling a very complex mission to fight wildlife crime and wildlife criminals. To further explain, “Individuals and organizations behind serious wildlife crimes are often very powerful and connected, they enjoy the protection and sometimes the complicity of the political elites, they can bribe virtually everyone around them”.
This evil cannot be hoped away; these crimes and criminals will not be eradicated only by awareness. Therefore what one needs is a strong fighting mechanism powered by professional excellence in all matters that address the crime and focus on the corrective measure henceforth.
It is important therefore to understand that who are the criminals and the disoriented minds who are central to committing such heinous crimes against the wild. It is bewildering to say the least that in most cases, top Government Officials and public servants working in tandem are directly responsible for Wildlife safety’s imprisonment. Directly under their nose are misdeeds committed against the Wild to which they hardly ever taken any action and in fact, occupy central seat toward forging the absurdities against the harmless Animals.
EAL’s Weapon of Justice : WildLeaks
On February 7th, 2014, the Elephant Action League (EAL) launched WildLeaks, the world’s first Wildlife and Forest Crime whistleblower initiative.
A world already aware of and swept by the brilliant work of the whistleblowers fighting against misuse of public safety and security, in layman terms, WildLeaks is serving a great noble cause by donning the protector’s hat for Wildlife and those who wish to inform of harm being done to it.
It won’t be particularly intelligent to construe that it is the WikiLeaks of the Wildlife spectrum even though the initiative is related to Whistleblowing . Its focus area and ideological commitment, puts it on a different, unique tangent of challenges one that aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.
It’s a nonprofit collaborative project created & funded by EAL and managed directly by EAL’s co-founder Mr. Andrea Crosta in collaboration with a small group of very experienced individuals, which includes the directors of environmental investigation NGOs, environmental lawyers, accredited journalists, security professionals and ex-law enforcement officers.
It’s Priorities are to prevent wildlife crimes and to facilitate the identification, arrest and prosecution of criminals, traffickers, businessmen and corrupt governmental officials whose malicious net leads to poaching of endangered species and contributes to the trafficking of wildlife. Harmlessly, animals across the world are being hunted for forest products such as ivory, rhino horn, big cats, apes, pangolins, birds and illegal timber.
How WildLeaks is acing the challenge of reporting, countering Wildlife- Crimes
WildLeaks ensures that every bite of information it receives as part of a whistle blowing information from observers of wildlife crimes- is assessed and validated in a scrupulous way. This includes, use of intelligence methodologies, a vast network of contacts and the latest technologies deployed to fight wildlife crimes.
Most important is to protect the people who choose to send WildLeaks the vital information. Anonymity is maintained by not only by providing a ‘state-of-the-art’ secure anonymous system but also by managing and using the information in the correct way.
Yet, it is important to inform that WildLeaks is not just a passive platform, but a very pro-active initiative with a solid investigative component and various intelligence gathering activities in Target Countries.
Extracts from our Q&A with WildLeaks
Q. When did the idea of WildLeaks first came to your mind?
Our organization, the Elephant Action League, started to work on the WildLeaks initiative towards the end of 2013. After realizing that there were a lot of people out there with potential important information about wildlife crime and the corruption often associated with it, but because of fear or distrust for local authorities, these people could not share the information with anyone. So we launched WildLeaks in February 2014 in order to provide these people a safe, secure, anonymous tool to share confidential information with us. Since then it has been well-received and supported.
Q.What made you start of a whistle-blowing organization meant exclusively for the wild?
As our Founder and Executive Director Andrea Crosta has said, “Wildlife crimes very often go undetected and unchallenged when people do not speak up about them, and whistleblowers can play a crucial role in fighting back, creating awareness and doing justice”.
There existed a need to create a safe environment for people who wished to share sensitive information as applied to wildlife crime and WildLeaks has filled that gap. It’s actually a very powerful tool that could work also in another fields, such as human rights, the fight against corruption, or even animal welfare. We applied it exclusively for wildlife crimes as we felt it was a missing tool.
Q. What is the modus-operandi of your operations, how many people constitute the think tank and how many are out on fields?
The Mission of WildLeaks is to receive and evaluate anonymous information and tips regarding wildlife and forest crimes and transform them into actionable items.
Actionable items include:
- a) Begin or continue an investigation with our teams and/or in collaboration with trusted partners;
- b) Share the information with trusted contacts within selected law enforcement agencies;
- c) Share the information with media partners.
We have a small group of analysts that process the information received in order to assess and verify the accuracy or reliability of the information. The assessment phase is a very important one, as people might even send misleading information on purpose, and this assessment is often conducted in collaboration with our vast network of experts and collaborators around the world.
We have a team of investigators who work under the management of the Elephant Action League’s founder Mr. Andrea Crosta. They often work with trusted local partners and professionals whose identities are kept confidential. This team can further research a leak or start brand new investigations.
Q. What countries fall into the focus area of your organization’s work and are you in this part of Asia yet?
WildLeaks is a tool that is largely accessible to wildlife-crime whistleblowers the world over, dependent upon internet connectivity. Our focus is not on any one issue or any one species; admittedly a few are prioritized over others due to the level of threat they face, such as elephant and rhino. But we are also very interested in receiving information about other forms of wildlife crimes, such as illegal logging or illegal fishing.
So far, around 25% of the information we have received has been about Asia, from different countries including South East Asia, Hong Kong and China. We have received just two leads from India, including one about illegal appropriation of wild land, which is still currently under assessment.
The word is out in India about WildLeaks, but not in a big way – thanks in advance for spreading the word!
Q. Please share some of the major breakthroughs achieved on date by WildLeaks.
Since February 2014, we have received around 70 submissions, many of which have been deemed actionable items by our assessment team. We have received information regarding elephant ivory trafficking, tiger products trafficking, illegal logging, and corruption. Leaks have come from 4 continents, highlighting the reach of the initiative and the potential to achieve further reach. We were able to share around 5-6 submissions with international or local law enforcement agencies, and others have been shared with partner NGOs.
Unfortunately we can’t share very specific information at this stage as we are still conducting investigations in some complex countries and we do not want to jeopardize our work and the safety of our people. We’ll publish an important report at the end of the year about ivory trafficking in Asia, which will include also some leaks.
To say that it was a pleasure to engage in dialogue with the Elephant Action League would be an understatement. Saving Wildlife isn’t important today but, pertinent since it is need of the hour. In their massive outlay of committed activities and tireless work across several continents, the Elephant Action League through WildLeaks have inspired us and many who know of their commitment. Their noble work will hopefully move millions across the world who are still sitting casually and engaging in harmless banter on social media as in everyday life whilst bickering about the need to take action against Wildlife crimes. We wish you all the best. More power to you EAL.