EJN Partners Oxpeckers and InfoNile Launch #WildEye East Africa

women dancing in yellow dresses

EJN Partners Oxpeckers and InfoNile Launch #WildEye East Africa

#WildEye East Africa was launched with plenty of music and fanfare at EJN’s recently concluded media workshop in Fort Portal, Uganda on June 29, 2022, through our East African Wildlife Journalism project. Ten regional editors from Ugandan media houses attended the launch, along with the 25 participants from East Africa attending the EJN workshop. 

There’s good reason to celebrate. For the first time, the geo-mapping tool allows journalists and policymakers in the region to track and share data on court cases and convictions related to wildlife crime in East Africa. It was developed by Oxpeckers Investigative Environmental Journalism in partnership with InfoNile, with support from the Earth Journalism Network.  

East Africa is the latest region to join the suite of #WildEye data-driven tracking tools in Asia, Europe and Southern Africa. Together, they address one of the major challenges facing wildlife crime reporters and investigators: a lack of data on criminal activity that has remained hidden from the public eye, and thwarted reporting on the multi-billion dollar illegal wildlife trade.  

Oxpeckers’ Editor Fiona Macleod said, “Using data adds accuracy, credibility and transparency to wildlife crime reporting, and this kind of transnational collaboration between journalists will help to strengthen the media’s role in bringing criminal activities to light,” as quoted in a blog post on Oxpeckers

women dancing in yellow dresses
Celebrating the launch of #WildEye with song and dance / Credit: InfoNile.

Fredrick Mugira, cofounder of InfoNile and Founder of Water Journalists Africa, pointed out that InfoNile is working hard to promote data driven journalism in the region. “Our strategy is to train journalists in data journalism and provide them platforms where they can easily access data for their stories and, if possible, link with those that generate the data,” he says. “This map and our other projects such as Nilewell.org are perfect examples of such platforms.” 

Kiundu Waweru, manager of EJN’s East Africa Wildlife Journalism project, encouraged journalists at the workshop to use the investigative tool in their reporting. “May we build a community of like-minded collectives who are passionate about impactful journalism, the environment, our heritage (including flora and fauna) and the people of our great countries who we serve everyday with the information they need to make better choices,” he said.  

man speaking into mic
Fredrick Mugira, keynote speaker of the launch / Credit: Benon Oluka. 

At present, #WildEye East Africa shares more than 650 data points collected over eight months by a crew of data wranglers, and is expanding quickly. Data is sourced from government agencies, law enforcement, wildlife conservation NGOs and media reports. 

An analysis shows that environmental crime in East Africa is on the rise, despite a pandemic-enforced lull over the last two years. The African Development Bank recently estimated that illicit trade in natural resources removes 5% of Africa’s gross domestic product annually, while additionally contributing to significant biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation in the region. 

Ugandan journalist Benjamin Jumbe was one of the first journalists to use the tool to investigate an increase in pangolin trafficking in recent years. “We have this challenge of wildlife crime and we really struggled with getting data or information from authorities such as the police, the judiciary and other agencies,” he said. “But with this tool we got great help to understand arrests made, particularly on the species we were reporting about.” 

Read the investigations produced using WildEye East Africa on the Oxpeckers investigations page and on InfoNile. All InfoNile stories are translated into either Swahili or French. To watch the launch of the event in Fort Portal, click here


Banner image: Celebrating the launch of #WildEye in Fort Portal / Credit: Sam Schramski.

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