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Genius! There are Now Inventions that Help Protect Wildlife from Smuggling

Sep 07, 2016 06:07 AM EDT

We can now fight wildlife crimes with the help of these new inventions made by the winners of a global competition. The competition called "the Challenge" is spearheaded by USAID in partnership with National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian Institute and TRAFFIC, an organization that monitors wildlife trade.

According to National Geographic, some of the winning inventions are a tablet-based platform that can inspect if a shipment contained an endangered animal; a system that can analyze DNA; and a computer model that can identify if an animal is put up to sale.

There were 300 participants from 52 countries. Out of these, a panel of nine judges chose 16 winning entries. Four grand prize winners from the 16 winners,will share the combined award of $900,000

It not so easy to notice an illegal trade. It can even hide in plain sight, and may just even pass through your eyes.

"The idea is that if we harness the power of the crowd, if we try to reach non-traditional solution holders, we could solve messy, intractable development problems cheaper, faster, and with greater impact than traditional approaches," says Sara Carlson, Biodiversity and Natural Resources Specialist for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Wildlife Crime Tech reveals that the winners include a database developed by New England Aquarium that will "digitize wildlife trade real-time." From University of Washington, their solution involves DNA analysis, detector dogs and assignment software that will pin point the seized pangolins' geographic origin. Pangolin is one the most trafficked animals.

Meanwhile, the National Whistleblower Center made an online system that will help people to report any illegal wildlife trade anonymously, and will give them information about monetary rewards once they "whistle blow" any illegal wildlife trade, according to another article from National Geographic.

The USAID will help the winners by making introductions to their potential partners that can help build their projects, Carlson said.

The video below is from the website of The Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge that shows one of the four grand prize winners.

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