Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge



On January 20, 2016, USAID announced the Prize Winners for the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge. These 16 Winners presented exceptional innovations, distinguishing themselves from a talented pool of 300 applicants from 52 countries. Prize Winners will receive $10,000 and technical assistance to further their solutions, in addition to a chance to apply for a Grand Prize of $500,000.

Detect Transit Routes

Detect Transit Routes Winners

Demand - Ivory confiscation during Operation Cobra
Photo Credit: USAID

Enforcement Gaps Interface

Jennifer Jacquet, USA

Science and Tech Type: Data Mining and Analysis

Enforcement Gaps Interface (EGI) uses data science on a massive scale to identify gaps in enforcement in the internet wildlife trade. Over the next year, the EGI team will build and use a computational model that mines nearly a hundred commercial sites for CITES Appendix I-listed fauna (699 species of protected wildlife). Law enforcement will be able to access and analyze the resulting data via a password-protected interface.

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Photo credit: GDELT Project

Realtime Global Platform for Mapping, Forecasting, and Network Assessment of Wildlife Crime

Kalev Hannes Leetaru, USA

Science and Tech Type: Data Mining and Analysis

The Realtime Global Platform for Mapping, Forecasting, and Network Assessment of Wildlife Crime will use the GDELT Project, which monitors, codifies, and translates global news reporting, to track media reports of wildlife crime in 65 languages in real time. The platform will include a live map that visualizes the current state of wildlife crime worldwide, highlights emerging trends and breaking situations to allow real time intervention, and identifies key influencers and transport corridors and their vulnerabilities.

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Paso Pacifico
Photo Credit: Paso Pacifico

The trade of endangered sea turtle eggs: detecting and monitoring regional transit routes

Paso Pacifico, USA

Science and Tech TypeSensing and Remote Sensing Technologies

Paso Pacifico plans to construct artificial sea turtle eggs that contain covert GSM-GPS tracking devices. These will be placed in nests at high risk of poaching. Once the eggs are poached, their movement can be monitored and mapped, revealing trafficking routes.

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Photo Credit: Zoological Society of London

Instant Detect: Exposing the movement of poachers in real-time

Zoological Society of London, UK

Science and Tech Type: Sensing and Remote Sensing

Instant Detect comprises a range of military grade sensors that use satellite technology to enable data transfer in near real time. Instant Detect hopes to help authorities immediately identify illegal activity such as poaching and smuggling in protected areas both on land and at sea.

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Strengthen Forensic Evidence & Data Sharing

Strengthen Forensic Evidence & Data Sharing Winners

Photo Credit: Binomial Solutions

E-Eye® (Electronic Eye): Real-Time Anti‐Poaching, Surveillance & Wildlife Tracking System

Binomial Solutions Private Limited, India

Science and Tech Type: Data Mining and Analysis

e-Eye® is an innovative combination of hardware and software that provides around-the-clock, all weather ‘live feed’ wildlife surveillance. e-Eye will help to secure parks and other protected areas by enabling: surveillance of inaccessible areas; trend analysis; intrusion detection; patrol management; and corruption prevention.

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Photo Credit: Bosque Antiguo and Fatma Escalante 

High throughput short tandem repeat sequence genotyping as a forensic tool for the protection of species

Bosque Antiguo, Mexico

Science and Tech TypeDNA Analysis or Databases

Bosque Antiguo plans to create highly accurate forensic tools that can identify the Scarlet Macaw, the Military Macaw, and the Red-Eyed Tree Frog at both the individual and species level in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Costa Rica. These tools will be used to provide evidence to prosecute criminals.

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Photo Credit: Mars Omega Ltd

The JIGZAW Information Collaboration Project

Mars Omega Partnership Ltd, UK

Science and Tech Type: Database Solutions

JIGZAW is a web-based application designed to store, process, and share information about any aspect of the illegal wildlife trade including actors, methods, and trafficking routes. This solution is designed to help conservancies and other protected areas process information and make appropriate decisions, and has been successfully implemented in Kenya to capture information about elephant and rhino poaching.

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Photo Credit: New England Aquarium Marine Aquarium Biodiversity and Trade Flow

Live digital invoices for real-time data analytics to enhance detection of illegal wildlife trade

New England Aquarium, USA

Science and Tech Type: Database Solutions

The New England Aquarium (NEAq) has developed a system that digitizes wildlife trade invoices in real time, checks reported species against lists of illegal wildlife, and analyzes shipping values like size and weight to find discrepancies between reported and real cargoes. NEAq plans to expand this system by creating a tablet-based platform linking species identification to invoices.

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Planet Indo
Photo Credit: Planet Indonesia 

Enhancing Bird Market Monitoring in Indonesia through Smart Phone Technology

Planet Indonesia, USA

Science and Tech Type: Data Mining and Analysis

Planet Indonesia, a nonprofit, plans to create a mobile app that enables users to easily and inconspicuously collect data in Indonesian bird markets. While pretending to send a text, users can collect standardized data on species, price, and origin, and even view images to identify bird species. Collected data will be stored in a central database for access by appropriate parties.

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Photo Credit: University of Leicester

Universal species identification in the field by rapid and affordable nanopore DNA sequencing

University of Leicester, UK

Science and Tech Type: DNA Analysis or Databases

The University of Leicester aims to pilot a hand-held nanopore DNA sequencer. The project’s goal is to fully automate DNA sequencing and species identification at a crime scene in approximately one hour rather than days.

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Photo credit: eRhodis.org

Internationalization of RhODIS® and eRhODISTM as benchmark forensic tools to combat wildlife crime

University of Pretoria, South Africa

Science and Tech Type: DNA Analysis or Databases

The DNA- and IT-based Rhino DNA Indexing System (RhODIS®) and Electronic Rhino DNA Indexing System (eRhODISTM) provide forensic tracing for African rhinoceroses and their parts (including horns), linking parts back to source animals and criminals to specific crimes. The project aims to increase its impact through development and validation of an internationally available rhinoceros nuclear DNA analysis kit.

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Photo Credit: University of Technology Sydney

Rapid chemical odor profiling for frontline identification of illegal wildlife products

University of Technology Sydney, Australia

Science and Tech Type: Identification Technologies

The University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) plans to develop a portable electronic ‘nose’ that uses smell ‘fingerprints’ to identify wildlife and wildlife parts on-site and determine their origin. Since it can be used in the field, the solution could help authorities prosecute offenders and trace trafficking routes.

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Photo Credit: University of Washington Center for Conservation Biology

High throughput methods for locating source populations in the illegal wildlife trade

University of Washington, USA

Science and Tech Type: DNA Analysis or Databases

The University of Washington’s solution combines genetic analysis, detector dogs, and assignment software to identify the geographic origin of seized pangolins and alert law enforcement to the most heavily poached populations.

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Photo Credit: International Animal Rescue Indonesia

Conservation of threatened Indonesian slow lorises using DNA-based forensic methods to tackle trade

Yayasan Inisiasi Alam Rehabilitasi Indonesia (YIARI), Indonesia

Science and Tech Type: Detection Technologies

YIARI aims to build a genetic database for slow lorises, which can be used to identify species and geographic origin of confiscated animals, map trade and poaching hotspots, provide information in criminal cases, and provide recommendations to the Indonesian government to update laws protecting this genus.

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Reduce Consumer Demand

Reduce Consumer Demand Winners

Tank Watch
Photo Credit: For the Fishes

Tank Watch: The Good Fish / Bad Fish Tool for Saltwater Aquariums

For the Fishes, USA

Science and Tech Type: Digital Media Campaign

Tank Watch is a mobile app that enables global consumers to easily identify popular aquarium species and distinguish those potentially bred in captivity and thus coral-reef friendly from those definitely wild-caught, possibly with cyanide or other harmful practices. This solution aims to reduce demand by developing consumer awareness.

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Tackle Corruption

Tackle Corruption Winners

Photo Credit: National Whistleblowers Center

Secured Internet Crime Reporting: A Worldwide Wildlife Whistleblower Reward Program

National Whistleblowers Center, USA

Science and Tech Type: Whistleblower and Crowd Reporting Tools

The National Whistleblowers Center (NWC) plans to create a powerful worldwide, multilingual online platform for educating stakeholders and whistleblowers about wildlife whistleblower legislation. The solution will enable whistleblowers to confidentially access information about their rights, and offer them a secure and confidential reporting process, including legal counsel.

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