Tag Archives: tigers

A New WikiLeaks-Style Website Is Taking Some Huge Bites Out of Wildlife Crime

WildLeaks is a new website using the internet to target and investigate the kingpins of illegal wildlife activities, such as poaching, the illegal trafficking of tropical pets and deforestation, among other things. The website utilizes Tor technology to ensure anonymity.

WildLeaks’s first major revelation was the story of how Somalian terrorist group Al-Shabaab had been smuggling ivory to fund their operations.

Founder of WildLeaks Andrea Crosta

“We had our first tip within 24 hours and the response has been beyond our wildest imagination,”

says founder Andrea Crosta, who is also the director of the Elephant Action League. Crosta explains that since many of the major wildlife crime operations rely on corrupt law enforcement officials, the site provides whistleblowers a safe avenue to report the crimes:

“You can’t, for example, export containers full of ivory from Mombasa without bribing people left, right and centre… We definitely feel we are filling a gap.”

In the three months it has been operating so far, the site has yielded 24 major tip-offs of wildlife crime, including:

• elephant poaching in Africa and illicit ivory trading in Hong Kong;

• killing of Sumatran tigers, of which there are just 400 left in the wild;

• illegal lion and leopard hunting in South Africa;

• chimpanzee trafficking in Liberia;

• illegal fishing activities in Alaska, including alleged mafia involvement;

• importing of illegal African wildlife products into the US;

• illegal logging in Mexico, Malawi and Siberia

According to Interpol, the illicit wildlife trade makes $10-$20 billion dollars every year. Read the full story from The Guardian here.

When He Was 16, He Decided To Start Planting Trees On A Sandbar… Now He Has His Own Island

Jadav “Molai” Payeng is an environmental activist and a member of the Mishing tribe from Jorhat, India. In 1979, when he was just 16, Payeng discovered a number of dead reptiles on a sandbar near his house- they had been washed up there during a flood and had died because of the lack of vegetation on the island.

Payeng talked to The Times Of India about the experience:

“The snakes died in the heat, without any tree cover. I sat down and wept over their lifeless forms … It was carnage. I alerted the forest department and asked them if they could grow trees there. They said nothing would grow there. Instead, they asked me to try growing bamboo. It was painful, but I did it. There was nobody to help me.”

Over the next 30 years, Payeng planted trees on the sandbar, slowly transforming it into a sanctuary. Today, that sandbar has become a 1,360-acre forest with several thousand different species of trees.

Named “Molai Woods” after its creator, the forest is also home to countless animal species, including rhinos, tigers, apes and a herd of 100 elephants who visit the forest every year for about six months.

Click an image to enlarge.

Officials only recently became aware of the forest when they stumbled upon it in 2008 while trying to track the previously-mentioned elephant herd.

Gunin Saikia is the Assistant Conservator of Forests for the region. He believes Molai Woods is the world’s largest forest in the middle of a river. Here he is talking to The Times of India about the discovery:

“We were surprised to find such a dense forest on the sandbar … [Locals] wanted to cut down the forest, but Payeng dared them to kill him instead. He treats the trees and animals like his own children. Seeing this, we, too, decided to pitch in.”

Payeng has lived on the island since he began planting trees as a teenager. Today, he lives there with his wife and two children. Besides managing the forest, he tends a herd of cattle and sells their milk as his only livelihood.

Payeng is now looking to start similar projects in other locations around India while continuing to expand Molai Woods.

Filmmaker William D. McMaster is currently working on a film about Jadav’s story. Here’s a trailer: