The weekend of the 6th – 8th of October 2017 saw an unusual gathering of 80 coders, creatives and conservationists fighting illegal wildlife trade. ZSL hosted, in collaboration with the U.S Department of State and Bloomberg Zoohackathon 2017 in London.
Attendees were asked to respond to a series of challenge statements authored by world leading experts and organisations involved in tackling illegal wildlife trade by giving them access to ZSL datasets. Following inspiring talks by experts in curbing the Illegal wildlife trade, including John Mann MP, teams went on to produce a host of inventive solutions to the illegal wildlife trade, including an app that flags illegal wildlife products on foreign menus and technology to pull data from across social channels to find illegal sales of threatened species.
Following the UK Government’s landmark announcement on Friday 6 October of plans to introduce a complete ban on the domestic trade in ivory, it was fitting that a new machine learning product designed to tackle the supply end of this illicit trade emerged victorious.
Team ODINN was announced as winner for their project, which intelligently processes images from camera traps in the field and immediately flags to rangers the presence of an elephant or human, allowing those protecting wildlife to identify poaching threats in real time and respond more immediately.
This could be a game changer in the fight against illegal trade, which has seen as many as 20,000 African elephants a year killed for their tusks. Judges were particularly impressed that ODINN’s hardware and software technology had potential to be easily integrated with existing camera traps.
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