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Represent a Wildlife Whistleblower: Announcing the NWC’s Wildlife Whistleblower Attorney Referral Service

Monday, May 1, 2017
Meera Gajjar

Meera Gajjar

Staff Attorney, National Whistleblower Center

It’s time to take the fight against wildlife trafficking from the jungles to the judges. The National Whistleblower Center (NWC) recently launched its Global Wildlife Whistleblower Program, and it is now seeking attorneys who are ready to join the vanguard by representing wildlife whistleblowers. This means helping whistleblowers develop effective reports and qualify for rewards under U.S. laws. For attorneys dedicated to using law to foster a world rooted in sustainability, justice, and diversity, here is an opportunity to pioneer a new approach toward dismantling the trafficking networks that threaten species across the globe.

Last year, in Monetary Rewards for Wildlife Whistleblowers: A Game-Changer in Wildlife Trafficking Detection and Deterrence, 46 ELR 10054 (July 2016), whistleblower law expert Stephen M. Kohn revealed the existence of powerful whistleblower reward provisions in wildlife, fish, and plant protection laws such as the Endangered Species Act and Lacey Act. These provisions entitle whistleblowers to monetary rewards when their reports lead to the successful prosecution of illegal activity, and these rewards have the unique ability to undermine the illicit economic incentives that fuel wildlife trafficking. On February 9, the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) convened a group of experts to further explore how whistleblowers around the world can report wildlife crime and receive monetary awards under these laws.  And on March 28, ELI held a technical skills seminar for attorneys seeking to represent wildlife whistleblowers through these and other laws that offer rewards for whistleblowers.

Confiscated Wildlife Products at JFK Airport, Steve Hillebrand

Through the Global Wildlife Whistleblower Program, the NWC is recruiting lawyers from all jurisdictions, experience levels, and practice areas to join the first Wildlife Whistleblower Attorney Referral Service (ARS). ARS Attorneys will be at the forefront of applying potent whistleblower provisions to the realm of global wildlife trafficking. Casework will range from using tried-and-true whistleblower provisions in the False Claims Act and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to activating dormant whistleblower provisions in the Lacey Act and Endangered Species Act. ARS members will be supported with trainings and resources; no experience in wildlife or whistleblower law is necessary. Watch the videos from training sessions that ELI hosted on February 9 and on March 28 to learn about how you can contribute to the effort to end global wildlife trafficking.

The untapped potential of using whistleblower information to stop wildlife trafficking holds so much promise that the NWC was named a Grand Prize Winner of the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge, an initiative of the U.S. Agency for International Development in partnership with the National Geographic Society, Smithsonian Institution, and TRAFFIC. The NWC’s Global Wildlife Whistleblower Program seeks to inform potential whistleblowers around the world about this opportunity to report wildlife crime and connect potential whistleblowers with competent representation who can help them obtain rewards. The NWC needs lawyers to speak up for wildlife by supporting whistleblowers as they strive to reveal and raze global wildlife trafficking networks.  

To learn more about the Global Wildlife Whistleblower Program and how to join the Wildlife Whistleblower Attorney Referral Service, please e-mail mg@whistleblowers.org.

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All blog posts are the opinion of its author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of ELI the organization or its members.