Published 21 January 2016


Winners of Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge announced

Washington D.C., USA, 21st January 2016—The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and its partners has announced the 16 Prize Winners under the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge. 

The Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge is an initiative of USAID, in partnership with National Geographic, the Smithsonian Institution and TRAFFIC

Launched in 2014, the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge is finding new, innovative solutions to the most intractable issues in the fight against wildlife trafficking. The program represents one component of USAID’s efforts to support the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking

The Prize Winners announced are:

  • Binomial Solutions Private Limited (India): “e-Eye ® (Electronic Eye): Real-time Anti-Poaching, Surveillance & Wildlife Tracking System.”
  • Bosque Antiguo (Mexico): “High Throughput STRs and Sequence Genotyping as Forensic Tools for Species Protection”. 
  • For the Fishes (U.S.): “Tank Watch--The Good Fish/Bad Fish Tool for Saltwater Aquariums.”
  • Jennifer Jacquet (U.S.): “Enforcement Gaps Interface.”
  • Kalev Hannes Leetaru (U.S.): “A Real-time Global Platform for Mapping, Forecasting, and Network Assessment of Wildlife Crime.”
  • Mars Omega Partnership Ltd (U.K.):“The JIGZAW Information Collaboration Project.”
  • National Whistleblowers Center (U.S.): “Secured Internet Wildlife Crime Reporting System.”
  • New England Aquarium (U.S.): “Live Digital Invoices for Real Time Data Analytics to Enhance Detection of Illegal Wildlife Trade.”
  • Paso Pacifico (U.S.): “The Trade of Endangered Sea Turtle Eggs: Detecting and Monitoring Regional Transit Routes.”  
  • Planet Indonesia (U.S.): “Enhancing Bird Market Monitoring in Indonesia through Smartphone Technology.” 
  • University of Leicester (U.K.): “Universal Species Identification in the field by Rapid and Affordable Nanopore DNA Sequencing.”
  • University of Pretoria (South Africa): Internationalization of RhODIS® and eRhODIS®
  • University of Technology Sydney (Australia): “Rapid Chemical Odor Profiling for Frontline Identification of Illegal Wildlife Products.”
  • University of Washington (U.S.): High Throughput Methods for Locating Source Populations in the Illegal Wildlife Trade.”
  • Yayasan Inisiasi Alam Rehabilitasi Indonesia (Indonesia): “Conservation of threatened Indonesian Slow Lorises Using DNA-based Forensic Methods to Tackle Trade.” 
  • Zoological Society of London (U.K.): “Instant Detect- Exposing the Movement of Poachers in Real Time.”

USAID will award USD10,000 to each winner and provide technical support to help them advance their solutions to stamp out illegal trade in wildlife.

Winners are eligible to compete for a Grand Prize of up to USD500,000. USAID will use Grand Prizes to target and invest in the most promising solutions.

“Wildlife trafficking not only threatens to wipe out iconic animals such as elephants and rhinoceroses, it is also devastating communities worldwide through associated criminality, violence and theft. Through this program, we are bringing in new ideas and engaging with new audiences to halt the devastation before it is too late,” said Cynthia Gill, Director of USAID’s Forestry and Biodiversity Office.

Selected out of a pool of 300 Applicants from 52 countries, Prize Winners are individuals, universities, nonprofits, and corporations from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and the Americas. Winning innovations include a variety of solutions at all stages of innovation that address four critical issue areas: detecting and predicting transit routes; strengthening forensic evidence; reducing consumer demand; and addressing corruption. 

Crawford Allan, Senior Director of TRAFFIC, applauds USAID’s leadership on the Challenge: “Wildlife trafficking has now become a tool of sophisticated organized criminals to finance other atrocities and cause chaos. We need new and equally sophisticated solutions to disrupt these criminal networks, expose corrupt officials, and shake up consumers that are driving the demand. The Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge is the most innovative program I’ve seen dedicated to this issue, and we are happy to support it.”