Theme: Developing technology-based solutions to raise citizen awareness on illegal trade in wildlife and develop tools for citizen monitoring and reporting

Illegal trade in wildlife is one of the five most lucrative crimes in the world, estimated to be valued between US$50-150 billion annually. It’s made up of three key elements: poaching, trafficking and demand.

Many species are directly threatened by illegal trade, and while international and national laws are in place for their protection, such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna & Fauna (CITES), Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), India and the Wildlife Protection Act of India, 1972 (as amended till date), the demand for wildlife products remains and illegal trade is still growing due to inadequate capacities to report crimes and enforce jurisdiction.

Citizen participation and awareness has emerged as one of the key remedial mechanisms to enhance capacities of enforcement agencies and discourage consumers to partake in trade of such products. The aim of the hackathon is to create simple awareness tools and applications for citizen reporting on illegal activities. The solutions can be applicable pan-India but should be relevant for Snow Leopard and other Himalayan landscapes.

Participants are expected to familiarize themselves with the SECURE Himalaya project landscapes, key issues pertaining to illegal trade in wildlife and come up with concepts and solutions that are simple, frugal and can be easily adopted by the citizens.

Click here to participate (please sign in to your google account to apply)

Problem Statements:

1. How can we raise awareness among children and youth on issues related to illegal trade in wildlife in Snow Leopard landscapes and the importance of these species for our survival?

Potential solutions like developing interactive communication tools like games, interactive websites and applications that engage young audience and sensitize them on key wildlife species and illegal trade activities.

2. How can we encourage citizen participation in monitoring and reporting wildlife crime?

Potential solutions like developing a mobile application that can enable citizens to click and upload photographs of illegal activity that can alert the concerned authorities in real time.

Key Dates:

1.     Online Call for Applications: July 8, 2019

2.    Close of Online Applications: 30 September, 2019

3.     Shortlisting entries: 8 October, 2019

4.     Hackathon Event: October 16 - 18, 2019

About SECURE Himalaya

The Snow Leopard is one of the most elusive and enchanting creatures in the cat family. Making its home in the seemingly inhabitable terrain of high-altitude Himalaya and Central Asia, it is a vital cog in maintaining the ecological balance of these landscapes.

These regions are a perennial source of freshwater, capture essential atmospheric moisture, reduce erosion and sedimentation downstream, provide food security and maintain land races of food crops. Millions of people depend on these ecosystems for water, energy, livestock, mineral resources, medicinal and aromatic plants, cultural traditions and spiritual values. Snow Leopard ecosystems in India generate ecosystem services worth US$ 4 billion annually.

However, these fragile ecosystems are under severe threat from pressures of unplanned economic development, over-extraction of natural resources including medicinal and aromatic plants, and illegal trade in wildlife to name a few. Despite being an apex predator, globally the populations of Snow Leopard, estimated to be between 4,000-7,000 individuals are also under extreme duress due to loss of habitat, poaching and human wildlife conflict to name a few. Almost 500 snow leopards have been poached in the last decade, not to mention other rare and endangered species in its habitat.

The SECURE Himalaya project is working in select Snow Leopard landscapes of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim to develop a long-term strategy to conserve the Snow Leopard and its ecosystems, by adopting a landscape-based approach that moves beyond traditional conservation models and actively engages local communities and other stakeholders in conservation.

More information can be found here.

Suggested Links:

1.     Tackling Illegal Trade and Poaching of Snow Leopards

2.     World of the Wild – Wildlife Game

3.     Report Roadkills – A Citizen Science Project

4.     The Global Wildlife Whistleblower Program

5.     11 Ways Technology Stops Crime Against Endangered Animals

6.     Animated animals: can games engage an audience with a conservation message?

7.     QuestaGame

8.     How AI is helping elephants, orcas and 3 more species

9.     CITES

10.  Wildlife Crime Control Bureau

For queries, contact: parth.joshi@undp.org

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