About me

rachael bale head shotI’m a reporter based in Washington, DC, with National Geographic’s Special Investigations Unit. The SIU is a grant-funded team focused on wildlife crime and exploitation. You can see most of our work at Nat Geo’s Wildlife Watch blog. I’ve reported on elephant poaching and the ivory trade, overfishing and giant clam poaching in the South China Sea, problems with wildlife tourism, and all kinds of other issues. Our goal is to shine a light on practices that have serious implications for not just for the animals themselves, but for broader conservation issues, security, international trade, and economic and civic development.

Previously, I was reporter and researcher at Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting in California. I started off covering immigration and the developmentally disabled before focusing on environmental stories, including mining on public lands, pesticides’ effects on rural communities, and wildlife. I also occasionally freelanced for KQED public radio, the Bay Area’s NPR affiliate.

Before San Francisco, I was back in DC, where I covered money in politics for the Center for Public Integrity, which, like CIR, is a a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative journalism newsroom. I covered campaign finance in the first post-Citizens United presidential election, which saw an unprecedented amount of outside influence and secret cash seeking to influence the outcome.

Many of my stories are data-driven, and I regularly use computer-assisted reporting techniques in my work.

In addition to wildlife and the environment, I am especially interested in social justice, mental health, and international relations. My goal is to make people care about what’s happening around them.

Laguna Beach, Calif., is my hometown, but Portland, Ore., is where my heart is. I went to Reed College, a small, liberal arts college in Portland, where I majored in political science with a focus on international relations. I earned my master’s degree in journalism at American University in Washington, DC.

I like: bourbon, the Oxford comma, trying new foods, reading, and sports that don’t make you feel like you’re working out, like aerial silks, rock-climbing, and yoga.

Follow me on Twitter at @rachael_bale.