Conservation Influencers

Animal Legal Defense Fund

Cotati, CA, USA

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) was founded in 1979 by the U.S. attorney Joyce Tischler, whose supporters like to call the ‘mother of animal law’. Tischler was among the first lawyers to support the animal rights movement in the 1970s. It was her thinking that articulated the notion that legal rights should be extended to ‘natural objects’. For example in 1976 – 1977, Tischler published what was then considered to be a ‘groundbreaking’ article in an academic journal, Rights for Nonhuman Animals: A Guardianship Model for Dogs and Cats

Another key figure in the ALDF’s rise to prominence was Roger Galvin. His appointment in the mid-1980s caused a stir because he was already a famous Assistant State Attorney.  In that function he had accepted the findings of undercover work at the Institute for Behavioral Research in Maryland, USA, carried out by Alex Pacheco, co-founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Persuaded by flimsy evidence from a biased source, Galvin initiated a fiercely contested prosecution known as the Silver Spring, MD, monkey case. This controversial prosecution captured mass media attention around the world. The ensuing publicity transformed PETA from being a relatively unknown entity into a global brand. 

Pursuing the prosecution with uncalled for enthusiasm, Galvin filed a 17-count ‘information’ action (an indictment without a grand jury). In all, 11 counts were dismissed at trial and 5 ended in acquittal. The single remaining charge, which was failure to provide adequate veterinary care for six of the animals, secured a conviction that was overturned and dismissed upon appeal. 


Since 2006, CEO and Executive Director is Stephen Wells.


Board of Directors and an Advisory Council.


According to its 2020 audited accounts, ALDF’s total revenue and support amounted to USD 28,228, 490, of which USD21, 530, 136 was used for expenses. ALDF has net assets of USD18.6 million. 

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.


Franz Weber Foundation

From 1990 until 2015, Franz Weber Foundation (FFW) managed the Fazao-Malfakassa National Park in Togo, which was, according to an in-depth investigation by Duke University, ‘established by forcing the local communities off their land and without taking into consideration their point of view’. That same study cited convincing evidence from reports published in 1990, confirming that competition for land use was already ‘creating conflict between the local communities and park managers’. In 2015 Togo refused to renew FFW’s contract because, the report says, ‘local communities were still excluded from the management of the natural resources of their land’ and FFW had ‘failed to fulfil its contract’. Franz Weber Foundation plays a major role within CITES because it funds and manages from Switzerland the African Elephant Coalition (AEC), which represents 32 African range states, some of which have barely any elephants and others none at all. Contrary to the wishes of the range states in Southern Africa, which manage most of the world’s wild elephant populations, the AEC at CITES’ CoPs repeatedly tables proposals to put all of the world’s elephants in appendix I. And the AEC uses its voting power to keep in place prohibitions on ivory sales and all other trade in elephant-related derivatives, including skins and hair, which Southern African nations wish to legalise.