Dener J. Giovanini

Year founded: 

Working with government and the private sector, Renctas is engaged in combating the trafficking of wildlife in Brazil.

Focus: Animals, Environment, Illegal Wildlife Trade, Biodiversity
Geographic Area of Impact: Global
Model: Hybrid Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 300,000 (2010)
Annual Budget: US$ 523,000 (2010)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 25%
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2002

The 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has failed to successfully regulate the international wildlife trade. Trade in wild animals has become a global industry of several billion dollars annually, primarily because of the combined lack of public awareness, the strength of vested interests and lack of legal enforcement. In Brazil alone, the annual turnover in illegal trafficking of plants and animals is US$ 1.5 billion. The trafficking is controlled by hundreds of gangs and is the third largest illegal trade after drugs and weapons.

Innovation and Activities
Renctas is riding the global wave of heightened environmental consciousness and taking advantage of the growing awareness among Brazilians of their country’s unique flora and fauna and the need to protect these treasures. It is also using the Internet to catalyse a national movement to curtail trade in wild animals. While wildlife trade in Brazil is illegal, laws are rarely enforced and selling wild animals as pets around the world has become commonplace. In only four years, Renctas has been able to dramatically lower the threshold of tolerance in Brazil to animal trafficking, and, in collaboration with other institutions, including governmental agencies and the business sector, animal trafficking is now denounced and prosecuted as a crime.

Renctas works on three fronts: raises national awareness of animal trafficking, educating the general public on this issue; supports public authorities responsible for the surveillance and control of trafficking; and conducts research to further improve its public outreach activities. Renctas has provided the general public with a web-based mechanism for reporting such cases so that the authorities can pursue the perpetrators. The organization also works closely with those most likely to encounter illegal trafficking activities, including agents from federal, civil, forest and military police.

With 12 full-time employees and an apprenticeship programme with eight students, Renctas has been able to mobilize an active body of 1,200 volunteers to its cause from all segments of society. It has also formed partnerships with other entities working to curtail trafficking in wild animals, including the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, different police branches and Interpol. Among the private companies that support Renctas are BR Distributors and Furnas Centrais Electricas. These strategic alliances have enabled Renctas to work within a powerful network, pooling resources and taking advantage of different platforms, particularly the Internet, for engaging all social actors in a concerted effort to address this harmful practice.

Renctas has generated interest from other countries in the Americas, including the US, Ecuador, Argentina, Venezuela, Paraguay and Peru to initiate a South American network to fight trafficking of wild animals.

The Entrepreneur
Dener Giovanini has been an active environmentalist since the age of 16. He studied biological sciences, but left school to help found a number of environmental organizations, including the Brazilian Green Party. Since starting the highly visible work at Renctas, he has received several threats to his life.