The Oxpeckers Center for Investigative Environmental Journalism is Africa’s first journalistic investigation unit focusing on environmental issues. The Center combines traditional investigative reporting with data analysis and geo-mapping tools to expose eco-offences and track organised criminal syndicates in southern Africa.
Oxpeckers is a non-profit company that aims to dramatically improve the quality and impact of African environmental journalism, by:
Oxpeckers uses best-of-breed mapping visualizations and geo-data analysis to track and expose the criminal syndicates, corrupt officials and greedy corporations that are looting Africa’s natural resources across international borders.
Complex stories are told visually using dynamic infographics, “single story” animated maps and data visualization to augment more traditional story packages.
Oxpeckers is developing the most comprehensive database of eco-offences in Africa. The resulting reportage is published online and through media partners, with the underlying evidence and other source materials available to other media and environmental guardians for use in their own work.
Oxpeckers is headed by Fiona Macleod, a seasoned investigative environmental journalist who is pioneering the use of new media tools to expose eco-offences in Southern Africa, and to track offenders around the world.
Macleod won the prestigious SAB EnviroMedia Written Media Award in 2018 for collaborative multimedia journalism projects, and the Print and Online Award in October 2014 for the Oxpeckers Fellowship project. Under her leadership, Oxpeckers was 2019 Merit Award winner in the Asian Environmental Journalism Awards, 2017 SAB Environmental Journalist of the Year, CNN Multichoice African Environment Journalist of the Year in 2016, and 2016 Journalist of the Year at the China Environmental Press Awards.
Prior to founding Oxpeckers, Macleod worked as an award-winning journalist and editor at a range of the region’s top media. She served as environment editor at the Mail & Guardian newspaper for 10 years, and was awarded the coveted Nick Steele Award recognising her contributions to environmental conservation through her pioneering reportage.
Anne Driffill is our accounting officer and office manager. With more than 26 years of experience in bookkeeping and accounting, she has served a range of South African companies. Her contribution to the Oxpeckers Center since its founding has included registering it as a non-profit company and setting up our accounting and admin systems.
Oxpeckers works with a network of journalists based in Southern Africa and elsewhere who specialise in environmental reporting. Embedded Oxpeckers associates, on secondment from other media in Asia and Africa, can spend three-month fellowships with the unit using our resources and tools to investigate major environmental stories for their home audiences and home media.
Anina Mumm is a science journalist, digital media specialist and entrepreneur. She is a long-time Oxpeckers associate, as well as the chairperson of SciBraai, a proudly South African NPO dedicated to science journalism, communication and outreach. Anina also co-founded ScienceLink, a company that helps scientists connect with the world, particularly through the use of multimedia storytelling and other innovative digital tools.
Tholakele Nene is researching safety in mining under a commemorative scholarship awarded by the Open Society Foundation for South Africa. She acted as manager of the Oxpeckers extractives digital tool, #MineAlert, and an associate journalist across all our mobile and web-based tools for three years. In July 2017 she was named one of the 200 most influential young South Africans by the Mail & Guardian. Her work has been featured by Oxpeckers, Mail & Guardian, Huffington Post SA and Delivery magazine.
Andiswa Matikinca joined Oxpeckers in September 2018 to manage the Oxpeckers extractives digital tool, #MineAlert, and as an associate journalist across all our mobile and web-based tools . She is a recent graduate from Rhodes University, where she majored in journalism, media studies and sociology. She is a budding journalist who hails from the Eastern Cape, with a passion for writing and documenting stories about people from all walks of life, especially those from small and disadvantaged communities, and for influencing societal change.
Yuexuan Chen is a third-year student at Duke University in the US, majoring in biology and public policy. She served as an intern at Oxpeckers in mid-2019, working on the #MineAlert tool. She is a senior news reporter at the Duke Chronicle, a communications specialist for the psychology and neuroscience department and a trip leader/rock climbing wall monitor for Duke Outdoor Adventures. After her Oxpeckers internship, she is studying abroad in Bhutan, taking courses in Himalayan ecology, resource management and environmental policy.
Oscar Nkala is a Zimbabwean journalist and wildlife crimes researcher who works across Southern and East Africa, from Bulawayo in Zimbabwe and Gaborone in Botswana. He is a correspondent for National Geographic and seven global defence, aerospace and mining news outlets. He featured as a journalist / investigator in When Giants Fall, a US-produced documentary detailing the slaughter of African elephants for their ivory.
Estacio Valoi is a Mozambican journalist who assists Oxpeckers with transnational investigations into environmental problems in the sub-Saharan region. He has covered a wide range of investigations for Zambeze newspaper in Mozambique and as a freelancer for international media outlets. His investigations have been featured by the Forum for African Investigative Reporters, German radio station Deutsche Welle, South African television stations, and the Reuters Thompson Foundation, among others.
Lawrence Seretse is an investigative journalist based in Botswana who assists Oxpeckers with investigations into environmental and wildlife problems in the region. He has covered a wide range of investigations on lion smuggling, economic corruption and embezzlement in Botswana’s intelligence organs for Mmegiand Botswana Gazette, and as a freelancer for international media. In 2014 he became editor and head of investigations at The Botswana Gazette. He was a finalist in the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist 2016 Awards for an ongoing investigation into Wilderness Safaris.
John Grobler is a seasoned investigative reporter based in Windhoek, Namibia, from where he writes for a variety of local and international publications on general news, mining and energy, with a specific interest on the overlap between natural resource exploitation, corruption and organised crime. His interest in environmental investigations dates back to the mid-1990s. His current work in this field was prompted by the return of rhino poaching in Namibia, which has the single-largest population of critically endangered black rhinos in the world. He won the Environment Award at the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards in 2016 for his ongoing investigations into rhino poaching in Namibia.
Yolandi Groenewald is a seasoned environmental reporter based in Johannesburg. Her stories focus on climate change, food security, development, science, pollution, energy, water and sanitation. She previously worked as environmental reporter for the Mail & Guardian for 10 years, where her investigations won several national awards – including finalist in the prestigious Taco Kuiper Investigative Journalism Awards. In 2015 she won the Zimeo Award for Media Excellence in the health category. She recently authored a Greenpeace report on new coal power stations and water resources. She was a regular contributor for City Press, and in June 2017 was appointed Johannesburg bureau chief at Fin24.
Rehana Dada is a filmmaker, writer and researcher focused on earth sciences, environment, development and climate change. She is a Knight Science Journalism Fellow, and has consulted as a researcher in climate change and sustainable development. In 2011 she was a founding coordinator for the One Million Climate Jobs Campaign, and from 2007 to 2009 managed communications for Working for Wetlands. She produced and directed documentaries for 50/50 on SABC television for 13 years, and produced and presented programmes for SAfm on SABC radio for four years. In June 2015 she joined the South African Adaptation Network as a policy and governance specialist.
Michelle Nel has worked as a freelance environmental journalist, photographer and editor for more than 20 years. She is a member of Al Gore’s Climate Leadership Corps and was the first freelancer to win the SAB Environmentalist Journalist of the Year Award for print. She serves on the Linbro Park Environmental Monitoring Committee in Gauteng, which aims to turn a closed landfill site into a recycling and recreational area. She has helped numerous organisations with their communications strategies on issues ranging from people and parks to wetlands.
Louise de Bruin is an academic journalist and regular contributor to oxpeckers.org. She has worked in academia since completing her masters degree in human rights at the University of Pretoria. Previously manager of the Sean Williams Living Creatures Trust and foreign policy researcher at the Centre for Human Rights, her true passion is South Africa’s wildlife and wild spaces. In July 2015 she was appointed administrator of the Game Rangers Association of Africa.
Crystal Ching Chow is an award-winning Hong Kong-based journalist who has covered Southeast Asian affairs, environmental impacts of Chinese investment in Africa, and global issues relating to human rights and climate change for various Chinese-language media outlets. A former recipient of the Earth Journalism Network’s CCMP media fellowship and Africa-China Reporting Project’s journalism grants, she won a Human Rights Press Award under the Chinese Feature News category in 2017, and the Environmental Story Merit Award at the Asian Environmental Journalism Awards in 2019 for her investigation on the illegal abalone trade in South Africa and its connections to the Chinese markets. She holds an MSc in Global Energy and Climate Policy from SOAS, University of London.
Hongqiao Liu was an Oxpeckers Fellow in 2013, focusing on wildlife trafficking links between South African and Asia. As a result of her investigations, she won a Merit Award in the Asian Environmental Awards in October 2014. Liu is now a reporter at China Dialogue and a journalist at Southern Metropolitan Daily in China, as well as a principal researcher at China Water Risk. She was awarded the title of Young Journalist of the Year by China Dialogue and the Guardian in 2013.
Shi Yi is a Chinese environmental journalist who served as an Oxpeckers Fellow in 2015, exposing wildlife trafficking routes from Namibia to Asia. For these investigations she won the coveted Journalist of the Year Award at the China Environmental Press Awards in June 2016. She has been based at the influential Shanghai news website called The Paper since 2014. Her reports cover topics such as climate change, biodiversity and pollution issues in China. Before joining The Paper, she was an investigative journalist at Oriental Morning Post in Shanghai.
Hongxiang Huang was an Oxpeckers Fellow in 2013. He is the founder of China-South Dialogue and a freelance journalist for media such as Southern Weekly and the Atlantic. His focus has been on Chinese investment and related social, environmental conflicts in Africa and South America. He graduated from the MPA-Development-Practice programme at Columbia University in New York.
Mark Olalde is an investigative environmental reporter and photographer. He has covered South Africa’s legal and illegal mining industries for the Oxpeckers #MineAlert series of investigations. His past work ranges from the Caribbean to Malawi, where he aims to bridge the gaps among academic research, public opinion, and on-the-ground realities with his multimedia stories. He holds a degree from Northwestern University in the United States.
Richard Spoor is one of South Africa’s foremost public interest law practitioners. He is an attorney with particular expertise in the fields of constitutional and administrative law, environmental law, land reform and mining. His cases include representing asbestos miners suffering from lung diseases in a successful action that led to more than R380-million in compensation; and representing more than 23,000 former gold miners suffering from silicosis in a class action for damages against members of the South African gold mining Industry. In November 2019 he was awarded the Gauteng Department of Social Development’s Man of the Year award ‘for being a role model to lawyers and young men in challenging social injustice’.
Marlaine Pretorius is an independent business coach, consultant, facilitator and strategist. Her diverse career has spanned numerous industries and various roles, both internationally and doing business on the African continent. She recently founded Omnicentre, an organisation that focuses on leadership and nature, after spending seven years as Corporate Services director at HL Halls & Sons in South Africa.
Margaret Raubenheimer is a management consultant, corporate governance expert and tax advisor on all trading entities. Her experience as an auditor since January 1985 ranges from dealing with large companies to small, owner-managed entities and parastatals, as well as being involved with tax, tax planning, estates, etc. She is currently a director of A2A Kopano Inc, Stabilis Inc and of Hospice Nelspruit.
Ron Nixon is an international investigations editor at The Associated Press. Previously he was Washington correspondent for The New York Times for eight years. He specialises in investigative reporting and data journalism, and has also been an environmental reporter. Nixon has extensive experience in reporting in African countries, and has trained journalists from several African countries in investigative reporting techniques. He is chairman of the board of 100Reporters, is on the board of the Great Lakes Media Center, and is a visiting associate for media and journalism studies at the University of the Witwatersrand Journalism programme.
Khadija Sharife is an investigative journalist, researcher and Africa editor at the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). She is the director of Plateforme de Protection des Lanceurs d’Alerte en Afrique, board member of Finance Uncovered and fellow with the World Policy Institute. Previously she was the editor at the African Network of Centres for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR). She has worked with forums including Pan-African Parliaments, African Union, OECD and UNEP, among others. She is the author of Tax Us If You Can: Africa, and holds an LLM in financial law. Her focus is illicit financial flows, natural resources and political economy.
Russell Baloyi has worked extensively on issues of environment and development in both the public and private sectors in South Africa and abroad. He played a crucial role in establishing the Midrand Eco City Project and is team leader of the national Greenest Municipality competition. He is founder of EnviDev Consulting, which assists municipalities to develop integrated waste management plans, trains community members as Eco-guides, and assists the National Youth Development Agency with youth recycling and green economy collaborations. He is a recipient of the Weekly Mail & Guardian Greening the Future Award, the Sowetan Youth Leader of the Year and the Clinton Democracy Fellowship.
Gustavo Faleiros is a journalist and media trainer who specialises in data-driven journalism. He is the founding editor of InfoAmazonia, a digital mapping website that uses satellite and other data to monitor the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. Faleiros helped create the Amazon Communications Network and the Brazilian environmental news site O Eco. He is a former manager of the Earth Journalism Network and Knight International Journalism Fellow
Justin Arenstein is an award-winning journalist and media strategist who works with partners across Africa to help strengthen investigative reporting, while also helping media owners adopt new technologies and build more robust business models. He was instrumental in establishing four major media non-profit organisations: the continental Forum for African Investigative Reporters, the Code for Africa open data movement, the Association of Independent Publishers, and the Southern African Freelance Association. Arenstein currently serves as an advisory committee member on the World Bank and International Finance Corporation’s Disclosure to Development (D2D) committee, which works to enhance the effectiveness of data disclosures about natural resources and extractive industries across the world.