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Call for Proposals

Grants for Investigative Reporting on Environmental Crime in East Africa, Round Two

Rhinos in Tanzania
Application Deadline
4 December 2021, 08:59 PM (Africa/Addis_Ababa)
Extended Deadline
Application closed

EJN is offering reporting grants to produce investigative stories that dig deep into the illegal wildlife trade and environmental crime in East Africa and beyond.

Please read the following sections carefully, as they contain important information on eligibility and the application process.


Wildlife crime is considered one the largest direct threats to the future of many of the world’s most threatened species, exploiting local communities, destroying fragile ecosystems and putting national and international security at risk. According to the United Nations’, the global illegal wildlife trade, excluding fishing and logging, is valued at up to $23 billion every year.

East Africa is one of the world's wildlife crime hotspots. The region's international transport links make it an ideal poaching ground and a key transit route for international wildlife trafficking. 

Media exposés of the illegal wildlife trade and other environmental crime are crucial to help inform the public about the risks they pose to biodiversity and conservation. Such attention can also lead to more stringent legal action and the adoption of stricter laws and protections.

EJN is looking to support 10 journalists based in Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania with stipends of up to $2,000 each to support in-depth stories on illegal wildlife trade and other environmental crimes.

We are seeking stories that go beyond news reports of government seizures of contraband. Preference will be given to journalists whose investigations reveal why the trade thrives, the forces driving supply and demand or the syndicates helping sustain it.

Proposed stories should reveal something new, for instance:

  • How do syndicates use online platforms and social media to conceal and market their illegal trade?
  • What tools do governments and other agencies use to conduct investigations into kingpins of illegal wildlife trade?

While we will prioritize story proposals focused on illegal wildlife trafficking, we are also interested in other investigative pieces looking at environmental crime. These include, but are not limited to, stories on illegal logging, mining or sand harvesting, the trade in timber, such as sandalwood, dumping of hazardous waste and overfishing. Illuminating reports on court proceedings, laws on environmental crimes and how they help in curtailing these crimes (or not) will also be considered.

This is the second round of story grants under EJN’s East Africa Wildlife Journalism project, which aims to boost coverage of conservation and wildlife issues in the region. In the first round, 14 journalists from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania were supported to produce deeply investigative and incisive reports on illegal trade on sandalwood, trafficking of Grey African Parrots, sand harvesting in Uganda and more.

The project is supported by funding from the US Department of the Interior and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).


Applications are open to journalists (online, print, television, radio) and other expert media practitioners with experience in investigative reporting and covering wildlife and/or environmental issues in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. We encourage applications from freelancers and staff from all types of media organizations—international, national, local and community-based.

We'll accept both individual and group applications, but for the latter we ask that the application is made in the name of one lead applicant who will receive the grant on the group's behalf, if awarded.

Freelancers with a demonstrable plan for publication and a letter of interest from an editor are encouraged to apply. Similarly, photojournalists and multimedia practitioners with published visual work are also eligible.

Stories can be produced in English, Kiswahili, or local languages. However, applicants who intend to write or produce stories in their local language need to also include an English translation. Please include the cost for translation in the budget, if necessary.

Grant approach

We expect to award ~10-14 grants of up to $2,000 each, depending on the proposal and needs. We will consider larger grant amounts for stories using innovative or investigative approaches that may be more costly and time-consuming.

Successful applicants are expected to put these grants toward travel for field reporting, research, and production. Applicants should provide a detailed budget with justification for the amount requested using this templateWe have not set a specific amount because we are asking you to consider what you'll need to do this type of reporting.

We expect that stories will be produced with equipment the applicant already has access to (including cameras, drones, lighting, tripods, etc.) and will not consider budgets that heavily focus on producing new supplies. Judges will evaluate whether the budget is reasonable and is aimed at covering costs needed for the research and reporting rather than externalities.

Those who are awarded grants are free to publish or broadcast their stories in their affiliated media as long as EJN and our partners are also given rights to edit, publish, broadcast and distribute them freely.

Please note that all stories produced for this project must be licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Judging criteria

Applicants should consider the following points when devising their story proposals:

  • Relevance: Does the proposal meet the criteria and objectives of this call? Why does this story matter and to whom? Is the main idea, context and overall value to the target audience clearly defined?
  • Angle: If the story has already been covered by mainstream media, does your proposal bring new insights into the topic or offer a fresh angle? 
  • Impact: Will the investigative piece trigger debate and urge action? 
  • Innovative storytelling: The use of creative approaches and data visualization will be considered a plus and should be explained in detail in the proposal.
  • Feasibility: Is the budget realistic? Can the story be realistically completed within the stipulated timeframe? Ideally, the proposed story or stories should be published within three months of receiving funds, or no later than March 15, 2022.

Application process

  1. Click the 'Apply now' button at the top of the page. 
  2. If you have an existing account, you'll need to log in. If not, you must register for an account by clicking "Join the Network" on the top right of the page. 
  3. If you start the application and want to come back and complete it later, you can click 'Save Draft.' To return to the draft, you'll need to go back to the opportunity and click 'Apply now' again to finalize the application. 
  4. Applications should provide a detailed budget with justification for the amount requested. Download the budget template here. We expect that proposals will largely rely on the use of equipment the applicant already has access to (including cameras, drones, lighting, tripods, etc.) and will not consider budgets that heavily focus on procuring new supplies. We will consider some costs for the reporters’ salary, particularly if the applicant is a freelancer, but this should be a small portion of the total budget. Please include the cost for translation, if necessary. Please also note on your budget form if you are receiving funding from any other donors for the story. 
  5. You must submit two samples of stories or links to relevant work. You'll be asked to upload these as part of the application process.

If you encounter any difficulties submitting your application or have questions about the grants, please email [email protected]. Applications submitted after the deadline will not be considered.

Banner image: Black Rhinos Jabu and Mobo at the Mkomazi National Park in Tanzania, which borders Kenya’s Tsavo National Park forming one of the ‘largest and most important protected ecosystems on Earth' / Credit: Kiundu Waweru.