New technology to combat illegal wildlife trade launched in Vietnam

WildScan, an endangered species identification and response mobile phone application, was launched in Vietnam yesterday to provide local law enforcement officials with an effective tool to combat wildlife trafficking.

WildScan, an endangered species identification and response mobile phone application, was launched in Vietnam to provide local law enforcement officials with an effective tool to combat wildlife trafficking. 

WildScan was first launched in Thailand last year, but the new availability of the application in Vietnamese language and its upgrade to include many additional species and information related to Vietnam, will support ongoing efforts to tackle the illegal wildlife trade in Vietnam. The launch is the beginning of a pilot phase to test the upgraded application, and continue to improve it based on feedback and suggestions from relevant agencies.

The mobile application contains a unique identification function, high resolution photos and critical information for over 300 endangered species and illegal wildlife products commonly trafficked into and throughout Southeast Asia, as well as essential animal care instructions and a simple reporting system. It is designed to enable frontline wildlife law enforcement agencies to efficiently and accurately identify, report, and handle animals and animal products caught in the illegal wildlife trade, without the need for large reference books.

The Vietnamese upgrade of WildScan and its launch in Vietnam was supported by the Biodiversity Conservation Agency (BCA) under the Vietnam Environment Administration (VEA) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE); working in collaboration with Freeland, a Bangkok-based counter trafficking organization; under the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) program.  

As part of the launch, a training workshop on the WildScan app was also provided for local law enforcement officials, to ensure the access and effective use of the tool by those who need it the most.

“We are pleased to support the launch of WildScan in Vietnam as a new approach to empower not only law enforcement officials, but also  the general public, in identifying and reporting illegal wildlife trade. Mobilizing greater support and capacity to control illegal wildlife consumption and trade is a priority issue for biodiversity conservation efforts in Vietnam, and we hope this app will become a valuable tool to help protect our endangered species,” said Dr. Nguyen The Dong, VEA Deputy General Director. 

The launch of WildScan is just one of a series of events and activities being carried out in Vietnam by BCA and Freeland under the ARREST program during  the month of May,  to celebrate International Biodiversity Day (May 22)  and raise awareness of the negative consequences  for all of society caused by wildlife trafficking and the  unsustainable consumption of endangered species.  

The series of events will also include an expanded presentation of the Wildlife Friendly Skies awareness training program for airport officials, which will be held on May 12, to enhance the detection of and response to wildlife trafficking cases at Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport.          

The Wildlife Friendly Skies program was previously presented in Hanoi in January 2015, and BCA is again partnering with the Northern Airport Authority of Vietnam to organize the training for more than 150 officers working on the ground in customs, cargo handling, quarantine services and other departments.

The training will be  facilitated by law enforcement and wildlife experts from Freeland, and  include  real case studies to illustrate the scale and seriousness of wildlife smuggling, tips on how to identify wildlife species and products, how to profile traffickers, and examples of smuggling methods.  

WildScan is available for free download on Android devices via Google Play.  Visit www.wildscanapp.com for more information.

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