Join the Human Wildlife Conflict Tech Challenge

In India alone, an average of 400 people and 100 elephants are killed every year as a result of human-wildlife conflict. In the past four years, 101 people have also lost their lives to tigers in India. In the Arctic, hundreds of ‘conflict polar bears’ have been killed over the last two decades. These species are all listed as vulnerable or endangered on the IUCN Red List.

We need better solutions - and we need your help! If you're an engineer, designer, innovative thinker or maker, WWF and WILDLABS challenge you to create new or improved tools to prevent conflict between humans and wildlife. If you come up with the best solution, we'll support you with a prize of 30,000 EUR to further develop and test your idea in the field.

Published Date: 2017/07/03

If you’re a farmer lovingly tending to your crops, and your neighbours happen to be elephants living in the adjacent forest, you will have a battle on your hands to protect the harvest that your family relies upon. Each night, the elephants come to eat your crops, trample through your fields and tear down your water tank. Or if you live in a town, your chickens could be eaten by a fox, or a polar bear could saunter in to paw through your garbage bin. Or what if your beloved dog is attacked by a tiger, your child is dangerously injured, or your life is at stake?

There’s a battle going on for our planet’s limited space and resources. Wild animals find their habitats shrinking daily and their migration routes becoming ever more difficult to navigate. As they are forced into greater contact with humans, these interactions are increasingly leading to dangerous situations in which people have their livelihoods or property threatened and face injury or even death. In turn, wildlife are killed in defence or retaliation, and local support for conservation erodes.

Conflicts between people and wildlife are a serious problem in many parts of the world. The damage that wild animals cause to property — and sometimes to human life — is a real and significant danger to many communities. With the animals often killed, captured, or otherwise harmed in retaliation or defence, these conflicts are one of the main threats to the continued survival of many species. WWF views addressing human-wildlife conflict (HWC) as a priority in our species conservation efforts.

We need better solutions. 

A variety of measures to prevent or minimise these conflicts do already exist. Barriers, including electric fences and deep trenches, can be constructed to separate humans and wildlife; deterrents like chili bombs, bees, fire crackers and flashlights can warn animals away from crops, domestic herds and settlements; and long term initiatives, like education and land use planning, can address the underlying causes that lead to conflict. Yet, solutions are often not effective enough, are unreliable, or come too late to prevent interactions between humans and wildlife from escalating into full conflict.

A critically underdeveloped or, for many species, missing piece of the HWC prevention and mitigation tool kit is an effective early warning or detection system for wildlife. A reliable early warning system gives people a chance to prepare and respond in a way that prevents destruction of property or loss of life. It can give a farmer the chance to divert a herd of elephants from his crops, warn people to keep their animals and themselves away from a polar bear, or alert people of the presence of a tiger in the area before it is too late.

Technology has an increasingly important role in helping conservationists understand, monitor and protect wildlife. Although it isn't a silver bullet, if applied to the challenge of developing early warning systems for a variety of conflict species, technology could have a significant role to play in preventing human wildlife conflict. WWF and WILDLABS are now searching for creative ideas for this very purpose.

This is where you come in. 

We challenge you to develop a new, or improved, technology tool to prevent human-wildlife conflict.

The two winning solutions will receive a prize of up to 30,000 EUR each. With this prize, you will refine your solution and field test it with the support of WWF's landscape teams.

We are looking for new technology or improvements to existing tools to prevent human-wildlife conflict. Submissions to this challenge should center on an innovative early detection system for one of the two following contexts:

1. Asian Elephants in the North Bank, Assam, India 

2. Carnivores:

a. Polar bears in Greenland (Denmark), Alaska (US), Svalbard (Norway), Canada or Russia and/or

b. Tigers in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand or Myanmar 

You can design a tool specific to one of these carnivore species, or think of a generic tool that could be used for multiple species. The winner will work with a WWF team to decide where the tool will be tested and further developed according to the relevant local conditions.

Proposed tools should meet the following essential criteria. The tool should:

  • Reduce HWC
  • Work under the specified biological, environmental and climatological circumstances of the selected case. (Applicable to the elephant case in the proposal development phase itself. For the predator case, context will apply when the tool is selected and actual development of the tool is started based on species and selected field location)
  • Be easy to be set up by local people and be culturally appropriate
  • Require minimal maintenance and be easily scaled up and made readily available in the relevant areas of the specific case study, or even beyond to other HWC-impacted areas
  • Be designed and crafted as much as possible with locally-sourced materials
  • Have potential to be turned into a viable business model so that it is affordable to people affected by HWC
  • Have potential for crowd-funding.

Special considerations: 

  • You can incorporate existing technology from other sectors outside of conservation and adapt it to prevent HWC;
  • Given the sensitivities around information and data on exact locations of tigers (which could be used by wildlife criminals), the tool must also demonstrate: recognition of data and tiger location sensitivity; must have built in mechanisms or strategies to ensure protection of data and information; and have detailed narrative on how such information is to be protected.

How to Participate

To participate:

1. Read the supporting information for your context:

~ Asian Elephant

~ Polar Bear 

~ Tiger

2. Make sure you're familiar with the HWC Tech Challenge Terms & Conditions

3. Tell us about your tech innovation using the HWC Tech Challenge Application Form

4. Submit it to the HWCtechchallenge@wwf.nl

The deadline for submissions is16:00 GMT, September 12th 2017.  

HWC Tech Challenge Proposal Form

Additional Information

Jury 

Submitted proposals will be assessed by an independent jury consisting of technologists, field biologists, local community members and representatives of international conservation organisations.

Award

Two winners (one for the elephant case and one for the case on carnivores) will be announced on the 20th of October, 2017.

Each winner will receive a prize of 30,000 EUR to further develop the proposed technology and field test the design in a location selected by WWF.

Key Dates
  • 3rd July 2017: HWC Tech Challenge Launch
  • 12th September 2017: HWC Tech Challenge deadline for submission
  • September-October 2017: Independent Jury assesses applications
  • 20th October 2017: HWC Tech Challenge Winners are announced
  • 20th October, 2017 - 20th October, 2018: HWC Tech Challenge winning tools are further developed and field tested
HWC Tech Challenge Rules and Requirements

Visit the HWC Tech Challenge Terms & Conditions for the challenge rules and requirements. 

Partner Organisations

HWC Tech Challenge partners

Ready to develop your idea?

Over in the community , we' ve set up a HWC Tech Challenge group as a space for challenge participants to connect directly with the field conservationists who work at the frontlines of human-wildlife conflict. Use the specific Asian elephant, tiger and polar bear case threads to ask questions that come up during your design process, call for collaborators, or to find out more about human wildlife conflict.