Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge

Photo Credit: USAID
The Challenge Blog

Winners of Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge meet in D.C. to accelerate and showcase their innovations to combat wildlife crime

Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge Winners
Photo credit: Kirby Crider/USAID

On May 31, Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge Prize Winners from around the world converged in Washington D.C. to participate in a 3-day workshop to accelerate their game-changing science and technology solutions to wildlife crime. These innovations range from portable DNA sequencers to artificial sea turtle eggs, and each targets the illegal wildlife trade, estimated to be worth more than $19 billion per year.

Led by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), with support from partners the National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian Institution, and TRAFFIC, the workshop included leaders from the conservation, law enforcement, and innovation communities. The workshop kicked-off with a call to action by Cynthia Gill, director of USAID’s Office of Forestry and Biodiversity, and Claudia McMurray, the Challenge’s senior adviser and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, who urged Winners to “seize the moment” that the issue of wildlife trafficking is currently enjoying in the media and highest levels of government. In particular, the U.S. National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking, developed at the direction of President Obama, provides a much-needed unified framework to fight wildlife crime.

A session with a wildlife crime investigator from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and prosecutors from the U.S. Department of Justice provided a practical, on-the-ground perspective on building strong criminal cases against traffickers, and the potential role of technology in assisting investigations and prosecutions.

 Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge Winners

Stephanie Jowers

With support from experts from USAID’s Global Development Lab, Vulcan Inc., the African Wildlife Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, and others, Prize Winners learned how to form strategic partnerships, leverage resources, source funding, and more. Prize Winners also learned to navigate the tricky waters of entrepreneurship and pitch their innovations to an audience. They demonstrated their abilities at the program’s concluding event, a fast-paced showcase at D.C.’s Cosmos Club, in which each Prize Winner pitched their solution to a packed audience of investors, tech innovators, and conservation professionals.

Prize Winners returned home to apply the lessons they learned and to prepare to enter the Grand Prize competition, a chance to win as much as $500,000 to scale their innovations.

Winners continue to seek partnerships with individuals or groups that can help to accelerate their groundbreaking innovations. Read about each innovation here and email info@wildlifecrimetech.org to get involved!



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