Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge

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The Challenge Blog

Protecting songbirds with the power of citizen science

Prize Winner Planet Indonesia is protecting songbirds with the power of citizen science

Welcome to an installment of our Spotlight series, each highlighting one of our 16 Prize Winners working to combat wildlife crime around the globe. Find out about all 16 Prize Winners here, and check back in on Mondays for a new Spotlight post.

More than 800,000 native songbirds are trapped and traded in Indonesia each year. Prize Winner and conservation non-profit Planet Indonesia’s executive director Adam Miller explains: “On the [Indonesian] island of Java, for example, in order to become a man you have to own five things: a horse, a house, a wife, a dagger, and a songbird.” Miller estimates that 22% of the people on Java own songbirds. With about 150 million people on the island, that number adds up.

Planet Indonesia has identified about 25 native bird species that are almost or already extinct as a result of poaching and the illegal trade in wild birds. In response, they are developing a smartphone app to address the problem. The idea arose when Miller noticed Planet Indonesia staff collecting data in the field using their smartphones to take notes, and wondered if an app might make their jobs easier while raising awareness about the impacts of the illegal bird trade. “We started talking about it, and at the same time, the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge was announced, so it seemed like a perfect fit,” says Miller.

Planet Indonesia has three goals for their app: reduce consumer demand for birds, increase data collection, and work with law enforcement. To that end, they are building an app that engages users in what Miller describes as a “game-like data collection process.” The app will encourage users to collect data on birds in wildlife markets and compete with other users to collect the most data on critical bird species, with top-scorers winning cell phone minutes as incentives. Planet Indonesia will use the data to work with the Indonesian government to better protect songbirds and increase enforcement of wildlife protection laws.

Like many of our Prize Winners, Planet Indonesia is searching for funding and partners that can support them as they develop and scale their innovation. Find out about each of the Challenge’s 16 talented Prize Winners and their game-changing innovations to fight wildlife crime here. If you would like more information, get in touch at info@wildlifecrimetech.org.



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