We do not incite anyone to do anything illegal, and we would never do that, this is simply a basic article on how investigators investigate. This information is by no means accurate of all investigators. Certain critical safety information may have been left out, this account is meant to be basic—for security reasons—but investigating is by no means limited to what is on this page. Please understand this information is not complete and to seek further information through word of mouth.
Criminal: These vary from country to country or from state to state. Investigators research laws in their local area. Some of the relevant laws may be around biosecurity, surveillance, trespass and breaking an entry. Investigators do their research and check their local laws properly understanding their risk.
Career: Potential legal repercussion then, in turn, having potential career limitations.
Physical: Given the nature of facilities investigated and the kind of work that is required in them, there is always the risk of physical harm (or death) from the equipment, site or if unfortunate enough, a nonhuman exploiter. The focus should be to respond peacefully, even if they are aggressive, investigators try to avoid violence unless there is a threat to their bodily autonomy (self-defence).
Emotional/psychological: From the effect of what is seen, from the effect of footage collection having an unmeasurable result, and trying to cope with a heavily speciesist society.
Handheld cameras: Investigators use high-quality cameras like the mirrorless Sony A7 series cameras. The Sony A7 series, in particular, have very good ISO capabilities, meaning they can handle shooting well in low-light. As for lenses, the faster (wider apertures: f1.4/f1.8/f2.8) they are, the more light they will let in. A wide-angle lens is also very good at showing scale, and a macro lens is good at capturing details like eyes or little birds.
Hidden cameras: This ultimately depends on their geographical location. Information is often sought through groups who have released investigations or individuals who shoot undercover on their own, most will likely (hopefully) point them in the right direction. Aussie Farms has a guide here which is Australia centred but likely useful to other geographical locations.
Radios: These are absolute essentials for a team of humans to be able to fulfil all of the roles necessary for as much safety as possible. 5 Watt capacity or up as most readily available brands are not strong enough and barely stretch beyond 5km especially in terrain often associated with investigations.
Communication via radio: Investigators continue their security culture into radio talk, no real names or suspicious messaging, they have code for what different things mean and what actions to take with that code. Radio channels are open.
Sim-less phones to navigate: Apps that allow downloading of maps to then use while out on foot. They search online for apps that do this specifically. GPS still works without a sim card. Not having a sim means the phone won't be pinging cell towers. Some investigators avoid phones altogether.
Generally: Smart investigators do not tell other humans when they don't have to. Anonymity reduces risk. They talk about it only via encrypted technology i.e. Signal or Protonmail, no social media. They don't talk about these things with devices with mic’s in them around, like phones—research NSA leaks by Edward Snowden and visit our page dedicated to security culture to learn more.
With material: Investigators remove metadata from files. They don't release any of the material until they are complete with the investigation. If they don't intend to announce the specific facility they don't document anything identifiable. They avoid filming other investigators—the less is recorded of them the less evidence there is of their chargeable acts; some will film themselves putting on biosecurity gear, again, different investigators do different things. If filming a rescue, they only release the material when the nonhuman rescued has grown to be unrecognisable from the footage to avoid them being traced and “seized”.
When going out: They wear dark unidentifiable clothing with no reflective parts. A balaclava is also important in case they're seen by cameras. They ensure they are equipped for communication between team members, checking for all types of cameras/sensors/alert measures: motion sensors, inferred cameras, flood lights, alarms, silent alarms, dogs, etc…
The skills involved in these actions involve being physically fit, and in saying that, these actions are easier/safer for those with abled bodies, however, there are plenty of things disabled humans can do, such as driving or being a map maker (explained below).
Investigating requires calmness and vigilance, and when on the operation humans are at risk for various reasons and this can spike up paranoia and anxiety; skills like mindfulness and stress reduction are understated in discussion around actions like this. Some humans may compromise everyone’s safety and the success of the action by panicking or being physically unable to complete a part of the operation, humans need to communicate their abilities and stress managing abilities before the action. Physical skills like long-distance running, sprint running, upper body mobility and strength through callisthenics exercise allows the ability to clime and run at speed. Self-defence skills can be useful to these investigators as well.
Skills for the operation and release include filming, editing and skills in releasing footage and gathering widespread media attention if that is their goal—everyone has a different goal, good investigators are clear about their objective.
When filming, the goal of the production is the main focus for the investigator and the reality they are trying to portray. Filming is an art and with any art the possibilities are endless, videographers simply must know what they want to achieve and why. Spontaneity is important too, the things investigators are going to see is going to be terrifying and disturbing, and not everything can be prepared for. YouTube and other methods of self-education and practice can be useful to investigators.
Investigators watch footage of other investigations from all around the world, instead of watching it as a consumer of the content, they watch it as a critic. They watch the film Dominion, but instead pretend to be the camera-person and try to understand what angle the videographer was at and how they got a particular shot, this will change their entire perception of the film and it’s actually easier to watch this way. They look at the placement of hidden cameras, the drone footage. What was the information they gave? How are they editing it? What is the flow of the film like? Was the education effective in understanding the situation? Is the video accessible for disabled humans? Did the film deliver an anti-speciesist message? What was it’s script like (the voice-over)?
Other skills in investigative work include effective communication, agility, perception, acting, tenacity and focus. Investigators are very aware of their surroundings, the weather, the moon cycle and night-time visibility. They are very aware of their bodies. They are extremely astute and serious about their work.
Mapmaking: finding locations and information on the target facility and type of exploitation facility is what investigators do. They can make maps like this one by Aussie Farms. Another example map is shown below which locates a few different types of nonhuman (and inevitably human) exploitation facilities.
Finding these locations can be sometimes difficult; investigators start searching online and will find some through business-related sites, other methods include freedom of information requests, they might be available through a quick search (i.e. zoos, pet shops, racing tracks) or they may have to meticulously scan the map in search of these facilities (pigs, chickens) and then using Google Street View they can confirm this, and later in person while on recon and operation. To understand what they're looking for while scanning, they would zoom into a map to see a building’s layout, they are often built near enough the exact same as each other. The key for them is to start building the map as it will come in useful for anti-speciesists in the future in understanding the structure of speciesism in their communities to better dismantle it.
As anti-speciesists they must understand the intricacies of speciesism in their country and how these industries function and operate; Who is the supplier? The banks they use? Who do they supply? What slaughterhouses do they use and why? How much are they being paid? What methods are they using? What equipment and drugs are they using? Who owns the business? All very important intelligence anti-speciesists need to know. This is investigative journalism.
Planning: Investigators conduct as much recon as possible to determine the best day/time of the operation, e.g. if the action relates to the slaughter of pigs at a multi-species slaughterhouse, work out which day(s) of the week they kill pigs. The more equipment, the more practice, the more reconnaissance and the more research, the more smooth their operation will go.
Investigators are wise to see a therapist and focus time on themselves for what they have been exposed to, so that they avoid burnout. Meditation and exercise as mentioned earlier are also key ways to promote better physical and mental health. Eating a nutritionally adequate plant-based diet, supplementing correctly and getting regular blood-checks makes sure investigators are fit and healthy for their intensive job.
With seeing a therapist, investigators must be assured their activity is confidential. Therapists need not know specific details (location, time) anyway.
They have fun, good investigators enjoy things in life, spending time with community, friends, family (chosen/biological) and partner(s), doing things they love.
Camera humans fully charge all their batteries for absolutely everything.
They clear all memory cards and remove or hide any identifiable clothing, tattoos or piercings and they do not bring anything related to themselves in their daily lives with them.
Investigators “torch check” clothing, for reflective or high visibility pieces.
They are prepared to deal with their terrain and circumstances with proper attire and skills: exploited/free-living nonhumans, rivers and water sources, sludge, mud, hostile plants, houses, humans, dogs, dew on plants, etc…
Memory cards and spares
On camera mic
On camera light
Filter masks (investigators explain it smells and is often suffocating inside facilities)
Gloves (for climbing to reduce cuts, and separate latex gloves for biosecurity)
Balaclavas for cameras
Small first-aid kit
Water (soundless container, not plastic) preferably a “Camelbak” in a waterproof sack to protect from leakage.
High-calorie energy bar, quick and slow release as from nuts, dates, oats.
Clothing based on temperature, terrain and time spent (leggings, neck warmer, sports t-shirt for sweat, hat, gaiters, etc.) compact layers for maximum mobility.
High ankle waterproof boots, or whatever suits the circumstances.
Wear dark green/black, unidentifiable, non-logoed clothing.
Make sure to have light, layered, warm/cool and waterproof (quiet & non-reflective) attire.
Practice long-distance running and sprints, as well as "callisthenics" bodyweight exercises (pull-ups, push-ups, dips) to have the ability to climb over things with speed. Practicing regular meditation and stress-reducing techniques can be beneficial for the prevention of anxiety and stress in these situations, stress, which is inevitable, but on operation can cloud logical judgement and impede the success of the operation.
Be equipped for communication between team members, checking for cameras, motion sensors etc.