Saturday, 25 January 2020

Journalists in 3 Continents Investigate Wildlife Trafficking

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  • Dozens of Pangolin scales that were about to be smuggled to China on April 29, 2019. Image credit: KLHK

    Dozens of Pangolin scales that were about to be smuggled to China on April 29, 2019. Image credit: KLHK

    TEMPO.CO, JakartaIn a pioneering initiative, journalists from Asia, Africa, and Europe have formed the Global Environmental Reporting Collective to report on environmental degradation and species loss as two of the most important issues of the time.

    The collective’s first project, “The Pangolin Reports”, focuses on poaching, smuggling, and illicit trade of pangolins, the world’s most heavily trafficked mammal.

    “While there has been growing media interest in the illicit trade, there is also a need for more cross-border collaboration - among independent journalists with specialized knowledge of their countries’ local situations, ” said Ying Chan, veteran journalist and co-founder of the Collective.

    “Such complex, transnational issues require shoestring reporting across continents,” he added.

    The Collective’s managing editor Patrick Boehler said that this is a new model of journalism in the digital age. “We mobilize global resources to empower local journalism.”

    Global Smuggling Networks

    The wildlife trade specialists at Traffic recently estimated that 27 new smuggling routes are created by wildlife traffickers each year. The journalists believe this is a sign of growing cooperation among African and Asian crime groups who have found the growing demand for their illicit goods, especially in China.

    A kilogram of pangolin scales is sold for likely use in Traditional Chinese Medicine in China at US$760, which is about 380 times that of a poacher’s US$2 reward in Cameroon, the reporters found.

    The complexity of the wildlife trade makes cross-border collaboration among journalists imperative. The collective builds on the expertise and networks of local reporters and the reach of their local news organizations to bring these crimes to the attention of wider global audiences.

    The Global Environmental Reporting Collective is a collaboration among journalists in ten countries across Asia, Africa, and Europe. It operates as a digital media startup, committed to producing quality journalism through local reporting and global collaboration.

    Editorial committee members include veteran journalists Kunda Dixit, the founder and editor-in-chief of the Nepali Times in Nepal, and Wahyu Dhyatmika, the editor-in-chief of in Indonesia.

    Contributing newsrooms include The Nepali Times,, R.AGE in Malaysia, The Reporter in Taiwan, Green Echoes in Cameroon, The Premium Times in Nigeria, the Centre for Media and Development Initiatives in Vietnam, and the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong.

    Initial funding for this project is provided by the Hong Kong-based ADM Capital Foundation, with an additional grant from the Africa-China Reporting Project of The University of Witwatersrand in South Africa.


    Read: Pangolin Trade Syndicate to China Captured in Medan