Mobile App to Id Illegal Wildlife Products


Accurate field identification of illegally traded wildlife and wildlife products can improve enforcement, prevent inadvertent entry of illegal products to cross international borders, and is critically important in the detection and suppression of wildlife crimes. Yet many law enforcement officers lack basic knowledge about the problem, as well as access to resources for identifying species and products.


The Wildlife Conservation Society with funding from the Department of Defense Legacy program launched a pilot app for use on iOS and Android phones and tablets by U.S. military police providing customs duty in Afghanistan and the Middle East. The app features a diagnostic key to walk users through a series of questions about products made from wildlife that they have encountered while on duty. The app narrows the field of potential matches and provides details on each species to assist with a final decision. The app currently features ~75 species traded in the region, all cats from around the world, some common species that may be disguised as threatened or endangered species or commonly traded, and a guide to ID ivory, antlers, and bone. This tool is an important component to support the National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking.


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