Kathi Lynn Austin: The Blackmarket World of Rhino Poaching Kingpins

As summarised by The Explorers club:

Kathi Lynn Austin will take guests on an intrepid journey into a three-year, six-country investigation of a global gunrunning network that helped launch and fuel industrial-level rhino poaching in Southern Africa. Along the way, guests will discover the black market tricks of the trade allowing wildlife crime villains to flourish. New light will be shed on the causes and potential solutions for what has become a full-fledged rhino crisis as guests are drawn into the shadowy world of gunrunners and wildlife smugglers operating much closer to home than imagined. 

Working her way from the African killing fields through Vietnamese and Czech Republic mafia circles to the illegal purchase of hunting rifles in Las Vegas, Ms. Austin collected evidence to build a dossier on each of the rhino poaching kingpins involved. Her findings are now at the heart of law enforcement and congressional investigations spanning three continents, including in the U.S. Her investigation was most recently broadcast in a TV documentary Follow The Guns and featured in a New York Times article: How Did Rifles With an American Stamp End Up in the Hands of African Poachers? 

About Kathi:

Kathi Lynn Austin is an internationally recognized expert on arms trafficking, peace and security, and human rights. She is founder and Executive Director of the Conflict Awareness Project, an international nonprofit that investigates, exposes, and brings to justice major arms traffickers, war profiteering networks, and transnational criminal operations that fuel war and conflict around the world.­ ­

For nearly 30 years, Ms. Austin has carried out original, precedent-setting and in-depth field investigations into the illegal trade in weapons, illicit trafficking operations, illegal resource exploitation, transnational crime and terrorism. She has documented conflicts spanning Africa, Latin America, East and Central Europe, and South Asia. Her work has been featured and she has been a guest expert on major media worldwide, including the New York Times, CNN, Al Jazeera, PRI and the BBC. In 2011, she was named the Arms Control Association’s “Person of the Year.”

Ms. Austin served with the United Nations Group of Experts on the DRC and Liberia as well as Chief of the Joint Mission Analysis Centre for the United Nations Peacekeeping Missions in Timor-Leste and Burundi.

As a lead investigator, advisor and senior consultant, Ms. Austin has not only served with the United Nations but a broad array of multi-lateral institutions and non-governmental organizations, including the World Bank, Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group, the Fund for Peace, and the Open Society Justice Initiative, where she currently serves as Senior Advisor for the Anti-Corruption Program. She has also served as visiting scholar at Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley.

Ms. Austin’s dramatic investigative field memoir, due to be released by Random House, focuses on her 15-year personal and professional odyssey to bring Viktor Bout, one of the world’s most notorious arms traffickers, and other war criminals to justice.

 An influential and accomplished public speaker, writer and filmmaker, she has presented at major fora and conferences around the world, and has contributed articles and op-eds in an array of top international publications and news media. Her award-winning documentaries include Killing Tradition: The Arming of Africa (2002); Forsaken Cries: The Story of Rwanda (1997); and Africa: Environmental Degradation, Human Deprivation (1994). In 2012, she starred in A Short Film About Guns (winner, 2013 Tribeca Film Festival).