Conservation Influencers

Center for International Environmental Law

USA and Switzerland

The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) was founded in 1989. Its core mission is, in its words, ‘to use the power of law to protect the environment, promote human rights, and ensure a just and sustainable society’. It pursues this work through legal research and advocacy, education and training.

The Center for International Environmental Law attends CITES’ CoPs, where it supports prohibition on all trade in elephant products, especially the sale of ivory by Southern African states. According to CIEL, ‘the prospect that a legal market in ivory might be restored in order to undermine poaching is an invalid argument because legal trade stimulates illegal trade and thereby increases the chance that elephants will be made extinct’. Hence CIEL believes that even speculation that the ivory trade could be legalized ‘encourages poachers’. This line of thinking leads CIEL to argue against the sale of existing stockpiled ivory and the harvesting of new sources of supply. (See: Remembering Elephants at CITES, by Chris A Wold). 

Another of CIEL’s major concerns within CITES is forestry and the enforcement of timber species’ listings in the appendices. CIEL has consistently supported the trade embargo on the sale of precious woods by Madagascar, which was imposed because of the nation’s ‘failure’ to implement CITES’ regulations on rosewood exports. This trade embargo also applied to existing stockpiles of rosewoods (originating from before they were included in CITES’ appendices), the sale of which would have no impact on the environment. CIEL has also opposed liberalising the restrictions placed on the sale of Afrormosia in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

More broadly, CIEL campaigns from a legal perspective against the fossil industry and on climate change-related issues.


Carroll Muffett, President and CEO, former Deputy Campaigns Director at Greenpeace USA.


Board of Trustees chaired by David Mattingly.


According to its annual report, in 2020 its revenue was USD4,526,548 and its expenses were USD3,647,631. One of its institutional funders is the Oak Foundation.

About the directory

Conservation Influencers is a searchable directory of the animal activist, environmental and ecological lobby. It examines the history, mission, methodology and reputation of NGOs to assess their impact on the global conservation cause.


Wildlife Conservation Society

In 1906, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) put an African man on display in Bronx Zoo’s Monkey House. In 1918, one of WCS’s founding fathers, Madison Grant, published Passing of the Great Race, which Adolf Hitler referred to as his ‘Bible’. Another leading creator and early leader of WCS, Henry Fairfield Osborn Sr, was also a founder of the American Eugenics Society. His son headed WCS from 1940 to 1968, overseeing a series of major initiatives in Africa. There, WCS became one of the architects of the prohibition movement, which put wildlife for consumptive use and vast regions of land out of bounds to humanity. In 2020, WCS distanced itself in public from the racist views of Grant and Henry Fairfield Osborn Sr. But it has yet to issue a critical account of the legacy of Fairfield Osborn Jr, even though he led WCS into the modern era while sharing similar politically-inspired ecological goals to his father and Grant. WCS devotes considerable financial resources to influencing outcomes at CITES. WCS’s CEO reportedly earns USD$1,320,978.