Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge

MEET OUR
GRAND PRIZE WINNERS

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE GRAND PRIZE WINNERS!

We are proud to award more than $900,000 to our four Grand Prize Winners! Chosen from 16 elite Prize Winners, these innovators presented truly exceptional and promising innovations that can significantly impact the fight against the illegal trafficking of terrestrial and marine wildlife.

The Grand Prizes will accelerate and scale these groundbreaking science and tech solutions in the fight against wildlife crime.

The Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge Prize Winners need an active community of supporters to help them stamp out illegal wildlife trade. For more information or to support our winners, contact us at info@wildlifecrimetech.org.

THE GRAND PRIZE WINNERS

Automated Shipment Forensics

New England Aquarium

Issue Area: Strengthen forensic evidence

The Problem: Illicit wildlife trade is hidden in legally documented shipments because no system exists to analyze shipments at the “species per box” level or in real time.

The Solution: New England Aquarium’s Automated Shipment Forensics leverages “smart invoice” technology to help port inspectors find illegal trade hidden in plain sight. Automated Shipment Forensics uses computer vision to convert the paper copy of each shipping declaration and invoice into a digital format, and then conducts real-time forensic analyses on shipment information, determining a pattern-matched probability assessment of illegal trade. By providing real-time forensics on suspicious trade activity, the technology eliminates the need for port agents to manually sift through paper invoices and enables them to act swiftly.

Enforcement Gaps Interface

New York University

Issue Area: Detect transit routes

The Problem: The sale of illegally trafficked wildlife via online marketplaces has surged in recent years, and online retail platforms have had limited success in addressing this issue. At the same time, the monitoring of the online wildlife trade continues to rely primarily on manual search techniques that typically occur over short periods of time.

The Solution: The Enforcement Gaps Interface is a secure, web-based interface that incorporates a computational model and the power of machine learning. The Enforcement Gaps Interface is designed to help non-governmental organizations, law enforcement agencies, and retailers identify online trafficking of protected and illegal wildlife and wildlife parts both domestically and internationally, and help map transit routes for trafficked wildlife and wildlife parts.

Genetically Tracking the Illegal Pangolin Trade to Identify Poaching Hotspots

The University of Washington

Issue Area: Strengthen forensic evidence

The Problem: Over the last decade, more than one million pangolins have been taken from the wild. However, little is known about the populations being targeted or their numbers.

The Solution: Leveraging the power of DNA assignment, the University of Washington will identify the poaching hotspots that supply the bulk of the international pangolin trade. By developing genetic markers that can distinguish between pangolin populations, the University of Washington will create a global genetic reference map, filling in the map using geo-referenced tissue samples from museums and wild dung samples located by detection dogs. Using this map, the team can pinpoint the sources of large pangolin seizures, helping authorities focus on poaching hotspots and identify at-risk populations.

The Global Wildlife Whistleblower Program

The National Whistleblower Center

Issue Area: Tackle corruption

The Problem: Illegal wildlife trade has increased sharply in recent decades, in part due to the low risk of detection, and trafficking is frequently committed by complex criminal networks.

The Solution: The National Whistleblower Center’s Global Wildlife Whistleblower Program is designed to protect and incentivize insiders to report evidence of illegal wildlife trafficking confidentially and anonymously via an online platform. The program incorporates a transnational reporting system designed to protect whistleblowers’ identities and an educational program informing them of their rights to obtain financial rewards for reporting crimes.

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