Wildlife trafficking is one of the world’s most nefarious challenges. Trafficking in poached and living wildlife is decimating populations of iconic animals such as elephants, rhinos, and tigers. More quietly, the world faces the permanent loss of fauna as diverse as pangolins and tortoises. Local communities are losing livelihoods and their natural identities and are becoming literal battlegrounds in a fight for survival.
The once occasional link between wildlife trafficking and gun, drug, and human trafficking is now a highway that involves transnational organized criminals. This illegal trade is driven by demand for exotic pets, delicacies, jewelry, decorations, and traditional medicines. Even countries that are not destination markets can play roles as transit routes.
The rate of trafficking has spiked over the last few years, and time is against us. The United States, United Kingdom, Australia and others are leading international efforts to stop this scourge and bring kingpins to justice. But can we do more to bring new tools and approaches to the table? How can we change attitudes, raise awareness, and enable consumers to make informed choices to support wildlife-based tourism and reduce the demand that fuels this global threat?
The Zoohackathon Model
Hackathons have become a staple in Silicon Valley and beyond for developing solutions to problems facing the tech community. In recent years, the idea of “civic hacking” has taken root and not only brought formerly disparate fields together to bring focus to important new subject matters, but also helped create new methods for and brought new minds to tackling the complex problem of how to combat wildlife trafficking.
Through Zoohackathon, leading conservation technology zoos in the U.S., UK, Asia and the Pacific will welcome coders and programmers for a two-day session on October 7-9th, aimed at developing usable solutions to reduce demand for trafficked wildlife products. At the end of the hackathons, teams pitch their ideas to an expert panel of judges. Local winners will receive prizes and winners from each site are also eligible to compete for worldwide prizes.
How can you participate?
Answer the global call for problem statements on combatting wildlife trafficking. These statements will be presented to participants who will form teams to craft solutions to these challenges.
Find the Zoohackathon near you and register as a participant. On October 7-9th, you will form teams to build solutions to tackling illegal wildlife trade. Your team will compete for local and worldwide prizes.
Join the WILDLABS.NET Zoohackathon Community Group to meet other participants, hear the latest from the Zoohackathon local events, and to track the winning solutions as they develop beyond the October event.
WILDLABS.NET is excited to be an official partner of the Zoohackathon. The inaugural Zoohackathon was announced as a partnership by Under Secretary of State Catherine Novelli and Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Executive Director Kris Vehrs on World Wildlife Day 2016 and is a part of the U.S. National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking. Visit the Zoohackathon site for more information, FAQs, and the Rules and Guidelines.
Check out the Zoohackathon group to learn more!