Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge

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The Challenge Blog

Spotlight: A portable electronic nose to fight wildlife crime

UTS

An electronic nose to help sniff out wildlife crime

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 our Winners here, and check back in on Mondays for a new Spotlight post.

Illegal wildlife trade has rapidly escalated into an international crisis, threatening biodiversity, destabilizing national and regional security, and pushing many species towards extinction. A major challenge faced by law enforcement officials is the difficulty in distinguishing illegal wildlife parts. A tool that would allow law enforcement to detect that a shipment of horn is from rhinoceros, and not cattle, would greatly assist in seizing illegal wildlife products and building a legal case against traffickers.

The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Center for Forensic Science is developing a portable electronic nose (NOS.E) that can be used by frontline personnel to rapidly identify wildlife parts at ports of entry. NOS.E uses the unique odor signatures of different wildlife species to determine the identity and geographic origin of trafficked samples. NOS.E can be used globally to differentiate a diverse range of trafficked species including large cats (e.g. tigers, leopards), elephants, rhinoceros, pangolins, bears, sea turtles, sharks, and a range of birds and reptiles, all of which have distinct odor signatures.

“Through the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge we have been able to build a network of industry partners and potential customers to test and validate NOS.E, and we’re confident our science is valid and the impact it can have in the fight against wildlife crime is huge,” says UTS Professor Shari Forbes, the innovator behind NOS.E.

All of our Prize Winners, including the University of Technology Sydney, 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. Find out about the Challenge’s Prize Winners and their game-changing innovations to fight wildlife crime here.

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