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The Black Market World of Rhino Poaching Kingpins with Kathi Lynn Austin

Explorers Club Public Lecture Series with Kathi Lynn Austin

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.

With 3 rhinos killed a day, the rhino species is nearing extinction. So rather than investigate each rhino murder in Africa as a separate case, Kathi Lynn Austin treated them as serial crimes. In a race against time, she tracked and traced the bullets and guns recovered at rhino poaching crime scenes same as if she were in hot pursuit of a serial killer.

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?



Kathi Lynn Austin is a former United Nations arms trafficking expert who exposed and help bring down one of the most notorious merchants of death—Viktor Bout—a Russian now serving prison time on terrorism charges in the U.S. She is the founder and current director of the Conflict Awareness Project, a non-governmental organization dedicated to investigating, documenting and bringing to justice major arms traffickers, war profiteering networks, and transnational criminal operations that fuel conflict, pillage and human rights abuses around the world.

For over 30 years, Ms. Austin has carried out precedent-setting field investigations spanning Africa, Latin America, East and Central Europe and South Asia. Her work has been featured on major media worldwide, including the New York Times, CNN, NPR, BBC, and Al Jazeera. Her award-winning documentaries include Follow The Guns (2018); 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). In 2011, she was named Arms Control Association’s “Person of the Year.”

Ms. Austin has served as an arms trafficking expert for the United Nations Security Council as well as chief of analysis for United Nations peacekeeping operations. She has also been a lead investigator, senior advisor and expert consultant for a broad array of multi-lateral institutions and non-governmental organizations. Since she disappears on her investigations in global hot spots for long stretches of time, Ms. Austin’s mother blames her for putting all the grey hairs on her head.

Date: Monday, March 11

Time: 6:00 pm Reception, 7:00 pm Lecture

Location: Club Headquarters, 46 E 70th Street, New York, NY, 10021

Member Ticket Price: $10

Guest Ticket Price: $25

Student Ticket Price: $5 with a valid academic ID at door

Reservation Notes:

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