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Competition Launched to Find Innovations to Fight Wildlife Trafficking


USAID Asia Mission Director Michael Yates explaining details of the agency's new Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge. (Steve Herman/VOA News)

USAID Asia Mission Director Michael Yates explaining details of the agency's new Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge. (Steve Herman/VOA News)

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has launched a competition to find innovative science and technology solutions to combat illegal wildlife trafficking.

USAID is offering a grand prize of up to $500,000 for innovations from the public to stem the slaughter of wildlife.

Applications have to address at least one of four issues for which innovative science and technology solutions can offer immediate impact.

USAID mission director in Asia Michael Yates said the four areas of concern are: detection of transit routes, strengthening forensic evidence, reducing consumer demand and tackling corruption.​

“They're all interlinked. And it's going to take concerted action in each one of these areas to really address this issue. And it's something that needs to be addressed with urgency. The trend lines are just enormously troublesome with respect to the increase in poaching,” said Yates.

Achieving solutions, Yates added, has to involve everyone in society.

“It's not the kind of issue governments will be able to solve on their own. And we look forward to receiving applications from a broad range of creative people to help us better understand how we can – working together – more effectively address each one of the aspects of illegal wildlife trade,” he said.

Interested individuals or organizations have until June 30 to submit a short concept note describing their solution to enter the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge.

The USAID initiative includes partnerships with National Geographic, the Smithsonian Institution and the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.

USAID says judges will evaluate applications based on impact and scalability. Those deemed to have the most promising concept notes will move forward in the competition.

Applications can be found at wildlifecrimetech.org

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