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Wildlife Crime Technology Project

Three elephants

The world is dealing with an unprecedented spike in wildlife crime. This trade—led by powerful criminal networks—devastates wild species, damages ecosystems, and threatens local livelihoods and regional security.

Fighting wildlife crime requires new and innovative monitoring and enforcement systems, as well as strategies to reduce demand for ivory, rhino horn and other wildlife parts.

In December 2012, Google awarded WWF a $5 million Global Impact Award to create an umbrella of technology to protect wildlife.

“We’ve seen that wildlife poachers have an asymmetric advantage. WWF’s work to use technological breakthroughs will help to even the odds.”

Jacqueline Fuller
Director of Giving at Google

Innovation for Conservation

This project will give governments battling wildlife crime a vital advantage. A new integrated network of technologies will help reduce poaching and minimize risks to field staff on the ground.

The Wildlife Crime Technology Project will focus on creating a seamless system of four technologies:

  • Affordable tracking systems
  • Aerial and ground-based survey systems
  • Effective ground patrolling by rangers using the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART)
  • Site based data correlation with wildlife trafficking intelligence and TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network


Over a three year period, WWF will implement this system across four sites in Africa and Asia that are home to elephants, rhinos or tigers. Namibia was selected as the initial pilot geography for the project. Major milestones so far:

 

Timeline: Phase One

  1. November 2012
    Close up of Elephant's eye
  2. February 2013

    After evaluating 16 candidate geographies in Africa and Asia, WWF experts select Namibia as the pilot geography for Phase One of the project.

    Globe showing Africa
  3. March 2013

    The Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism agrees to partner with WWF to collaboratively select, integrate, test and deploy systems that support anti-poaching efforts in key sites.

    Republic of Namibia Ministry of Environment & Tourism Emblem
  4. April 2013

    Wildlife Crime Technology Project staff and a wildlife security expert perform a comprehensive site analysis of a National Park in Namibia as the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism embeds radio frequency identification chips in rhino horns for monitoring purposes.

    Rhino in front of helicopter
  5. May 2013

    WWF releases a Request for Information and Proposals to international technology companies for Unmanned Aerial Systems.

    Stop Wildlife Crime logo
  6. July 2013

    Over 50 international submissions are received proposing Unmanned Aerial Systems for protecting wildlife. This includes a range of platforms with varying capabilities – the first time such an assessment has been conducted for wildlife crime applications.

    Unmanned aerial vehicle
  7. September 2013

    WWF and cellular engineer partners manufacture prototype affordable tracking devices using cell technology.

    Motherboard of a prototype affordable tracking device using cell technology
  8. September 2013

    A WildCrime Tech Network Google Group is created to enhance information exchange on technology solutions to wildlife crime between innovators in the technology sector and conservation practitioners.

    African Elephant
  9. October 2013

    More than one platform is selected to demonstrate relative capabilities in challenging field conditions and patrol scenarios.

    A Namibian ranger holds unmanned aerial vehicle during a training
  10. October 2013

    WWF co-hosts a forum on Protecting Threatened Wildlife in Africa with Technology and Training with the Richardson Center for Global Engagement and African Parks. Over 60 experts from the research and development, government, enforcement, non-profit and private sectors convene to discuss specific experiences with emerging technologies.

    Elephant
  11. November 2013

    WWF and the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism commission a pilot system of ground-based sensors connected by a Radio Frequency Mesh Network for enhanced real-time monitoring of key areas.

    The Namibian Ministry of Environment & Tourism's pilot system of ground-based sensors connected by a Radio Frequency Mesh Network for real-time monitoring of key areas
  12. November 2013

    Over thirty wardens from every region of Namibia join WWF staff and technology experts for a week of field trials in two National Parks. Proof-of-concept for successful integration of technology systems is achieved.

    Namibian Ministry of Environment & Tourism wardens take turns operating the Falcon UAV in integrated systems demonstrations
  13. December 2013

    The Falcon UAV aerial platform is selected by the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism for strategic use in all the rhino and elephant areas in Namibia.

    Black Rhino in the bush
 

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