Claw Net’ and ‘Wildlife Guru’- New Innovative Solutions Developed at Zoohackathon, New Delhi to End Wildlife Trafficking


New Delhi: Zoohackathon, a two-day technology-based challenge to help find solutions to curb wildlife trafficking, culminated yesterday in New Delhi. Coders, wildlife enthusiasts, and designers worked together on 22-23 September 2018 to find solutions to the problems related to the illegal wildlife trade at the Zoohackathon 2.0, New Delhi, jointly organized by the U.S. Embassy, New Delhi, TRAFFIC, and WWF-India at the WWF-India Secretariat.

Team ‘Zoocchini’ from IIIT-D won the challenge while the Team ‘Error: Error not Found’ from University of Delhi were the runners up at the Zoohackathon, New Delhi. The winning team will now compete for the global prize, winners of which will be announced on World Cheetah Day, 4 December 2018.

The Team ‘Zoocchini’ came up with a unique web tool called ‘Claw Net’. They developed this interactive platform that demystifies wildlife laws, making it easier for the general public to understand and accordingly differentiate between illegal and legal wildlife trade. This tool will be helpful in generating information that will be used to map out trade routes for law enforcement agencies to use. The team used a 3D-rendered globe for mapping the routes.

Team ‘Error: Error not Found’ developed a voice user interface called” Wildlife Guru” that would provide details about the wildlife products, wildlife species in trade, laws, list of organizations that can be contacted to report a crime, etc. This model once developed can be built into Virtual Assistants available in the market today.

Overall, nine teams, including 45 participants, worked tirelessly for two days to understand the various issues related to wildlife trafficking and then developed tech-based answers to curb poaching, track wildlife criminals, raise awareness among wildlife consumers, and help stop illegal wildlife trade. The teams were mentored by wildlife experts from TRAFFIC and the San Diego Zoo, USA, as well as IT and communications experts.

The teams presented their ideas/solutions in front of a panel of judges that included: Dr Gabriel Miller, Senior Scientist, Research and Development at San Diego Zoo Global; Dr Dipankar Ghose, Director, Species and Landscape Programme, WWF-India; Ms. Julia Kennedy, Deputy Director, Clean Energy and Environment Officer, USAID; J. Dinesh Kumar, Comp Programmer, U.S. Embassy; and Ashish Choudhary, Senior Software Engineer, Golden Technology International Pvt. Ltd.

Mr Anoop Kumar Naik, Member Secretary, National Tiger Conservation Authority and Ms. Tilotma Varma, Additional Director, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau were present at the opening session of Zoohackathon 2.0, New Delhi on 21 September 2018 and spoke about the various aspects of wildlife crime and how it has taken a form of an organized criminal activity. They encouraged the youth to participate and support initiatives such as these so their interest and knowledge can be tapped to find new and innovative solutions to secure the future of wildlife.

Ms. Victoria Peabody, Public Affairs Specialist, Bureau of Oceans, Environmental, and Scientific Affairs, U.S Department of State said, “The New Delhi Zoohackathon was a great success and the participants were inspiring as they created many innovative solutions to end wildlife crime”.

Dr. Saket Badola, IFS, Head, TRAFFIC India, while presenting certificates and prizes to the winning teams along with Robert Garverick, Minister Counselor for Economic, Environmental, Science and Technology Affairs at the U.S. Embassy, New Delhi said, “Illegal wildlife trade is a serious issue threatening the survival of many wildlife species and I am glad to see so much support among the youth to help curb this menace. Zoohackathon is a platform that brings together intelligent minds to work together to find future solutions to the current problems of wildlife crime. I congratulate and thank everyone for taking out time to be here and for supporting this important cause.

The first Zoohackathon events took place in 2016 in London, Sydney, Washington D.C., San Diego, and Seattle. India’s first Zoohackathon was also held at the WWF-India Secretariat in New Delhi on October 7–8, 2017. Mumbai’s first Zoohackathon was organized this year by the U.S. Consulate, Mumbai, TRAFFIC, and WWF-India on 15-16 September 2018 at the Veermata Jijamata Udyaan, Mumbai.