Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge

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The Challenge Blog

New York University fights online wildlife trafficking

Grand Prize Winner New York University is tackling online wildlife trafficking

Welcome to an installment of our Spotlight series, highlighting each 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.

According to innovator Jennifer Jacquet, Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Studies at New York University’s (NYU), a Grand Prize Winner of the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge, the online marketing of trafficked wildlife has intensified in recent years. Jacquet and her collaborator Sunandan Chakraborty of NYU’s Center for Data Science find about 2000 examples of potentially trafficked wildlife and wildlife parts each week through their prize-winning innovation, a digital monitoring and analysis tool called Enforcements Gaps Interface (EGI).

Beginning in 2015, Jacquet and Chakraborty developed EGI to mine hundreds of commercial websites for ads potentially containing illegal wildlife and wildlife products for sale. Jacquet explains, “[for] a lot of the wildlife for sale online, it’s so difficult to tell whether or not it’s illegal… We can give enforcement, retailers a best guess with high, medium, or low certainty that the product for sale is illegal [wildlife].” EGI allows enforcement agencies, NGOs, and online retailers to automatically identify online trafficking of species listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

EGI is currently being tested and developed in English and Chinese, but additional development is needed. Jacquet and Chakraborty have plans to expand EGI’s language capacity to Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Find out about each of the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge’s 16 talented Prize Winners and their game-changing innovations to fight wildlife crime here. All of our Prize Winners, including New York University, are looking for partners, organizations, individuals, and funding agencies that can help them scale their solutions. If you would like more information, get in touch at info@wildlifecrimetech.org.



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