The body of a tiger discovered in a house in Prague, next to a pot used to cook down tiger parts. Credit: Handout Czech customs authority
EJN’s project on Investigating Wildlife Trafficking got off to a strong start with its first story, an investigation into tiger breeding farms in the Czech Republic, carried out by grantee Tristan Martin.
The piece, published first by The Guardian, exposed how illegal tiger farms are not just a problem in Asia but are also operating in the middle of the European Union.
Within the first month after its publication, the story had been shared on social media nearly 29,000 times via The Guardian’s website. It also sparked an article in The Conversation touching on the history of captive breeding.
A timely story by grantee Denise Hruby that appeared in the South China Morning Post just before the Christmas holiday, explored how the vast increase in deliveries over the Christmas period represents a prime opportunity for wildlife smugglers given overwhelmed delivery services, post offices and customs inspectors. And while containers full of trafficked wildlife continue to be intercepted, big hauls are becoming rarer as smaller shipments sent through delivery services grow.
In 2016, an EJN-supported investigation by Oxpeckers Investigative Environmental Journalism similarly exposed the role of breeders in the illegal trade of African grey parrots.
Following that reporting, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, a treaty that protects threatened wildlife, upgraded African grey parrots from its Appendix II to Appendix I, effectively outlawing all commercial trade in the species.
Oxpeckers is now working with EJN to compile a database of wildlife crime cases in Europe and is tracking developments around the issue. As part of that effort, reporter Roxanne Joseph wrote about a new report that focuses on the shift illegal wildlife traders are making toward the ‘dark web’, a sign that the online marketplace for illicit wildlife parts could become far harder to disrupt.
EJN will be putting out further stories related to this project in the coming year, so stay tuned.