New tool tracks Europe’s role in international illegal wildlife trade


Oxpeckers, Europe

Brain storm: EJN’s James Fahn (left) and Oxpeckers associate Roxanne Joseph fine-tune #WildEye operations in London in October 2018

Wildlife traffickers are increasingly active in Europe, which is growing in importance as both a transit hub and a market for illegally-traded endangered species and their products. So what are the law enforcement agencies doing? And how would you know?

Until now, there has been no one place to easily access information on seizures, arrests, court cases and convictions related to wildlife crime in Europe.

#WildEye is a digital geojournalism tool that addresses this gap. Launched on 28 January 2019 by Oxpeckers Investigative Environmental Journalism in partnership with the Earth Journalism Network, #WildEye maps and tracks data on law enforcement interventions across greater Europe.

#WildEye builds on the Oxpeckers Rhino Poachers Court Cases tracker, which documents prosecutions and court cases across Southern Africa involving alleged rhino poachers. The idea behind both tools is to aggregate publicly available data and make it easily accessible for use by journalists, policymakers and the general public.

Using search filters, tags, geolocation and custom online map-making, #WildEye enables users to find out about and track seizures, arrests, court cases and convictions that interest them. It is an open source tool, freely available to those who want to use and share it.

Oxpeckers will be continuously updating and managing the map’s data, based in part on input from users. We welcome any guidance, tips and contact information that could be helpful to our development and data-collection efforts.

In-depth investigations: An exposé of an organised transnational crime ring smuggling tiger parts from the heart of the EU is just one of the investigations currently headlining #WildEye / Credit: Handout Czech customs authority

Journalistic investigations

#WildEye is part of a broader project that aids journalists in monitoring and investigating illegal wildlife trafficking in Europe and the UK. Through in-depth investigations, they expose wildlife smuggling networks and how they work across the continent, providing insight into how these links operate on a global scale.

An exposé of an organised transnational crime ring smuggling tiger parts from the heart of the EU is just one of the investigations currently headlining #WildEye. Other stories report on how wildlife traffickers use mail delivery services, the internet and the Dark Web to smuggle their contraband.

These and the ongoing investigations aim to highlight the impact this type of activity has on society. We also hope to identify gaps in law enforcement that allow illegal trafficking to thrive, and to share success stories.

Journalists interested in collaborating with our investigative teams can apply for grant funding here.

Find the #WildEye map and investigations here

• For more information, contact [email protected] or [email protected]