Our investigations

Since our formation in 1984, we have pioneered the use of undercover investigations as a vital means to document environmental crimes and abuse. More than three decades later, this dynamic approach to gathering evidence is still a cornerstone of our work.

The way we conduct investigations has adapted over time to keep pace with developments in society as well as technology; the advent and spread of social media, for example, has made it easier for investigators to engage with targets remotely, building up a profile before a first physical meeting, while technological advances have greatly improved the variety and reliability of covert recording devices.  

The initial phase of an investigation involves appraisal of the leads we have and any relevant contextual information, allowing us to make a sound evaluation of the best approach and to take steps to mitigate any anticipated risks. 

An effective cover story is essential as is detailed knowledge of the subject matter, such as prices paid for certain types of timber, identification of wildlife products, and transport routes. EIA is scrupulous to avoid entrapment, so engagement with potential targets begins gradually and it take a series of conversations and meetings to get the full story.  Whatever approach is used, the preparations are exhaustive to ensure our investigators have the best chance of obtaining vital information and to do so safely – from drilling cover stories into memory to double-checking our hidden recording equipment.  

Just some of our amazing undercover investigative work

Our investigations often uncover actionable intelligence on individuals and syndicates involved in environmental crime, even on occasion live information of illicit consignments of contraband such as ivory tusks en route. We have developed effective relationships with key enforcement agencies in a range of countries, as well as international bodies like INTERPOL, which helps us get our intelligence into the right hands to ensure swift enforcement action is taken. . 

By bearing witness and obtaining first-hand evidence of environmental crimes and abuses through painstaking and often long-running investigations, we are proud to have secured key protections for the environment and endangered species while significantly disrupting the activities of a host of criminal enterprises. 

To learn more about our investigators, you can see interviews with them as part of our investigator week.