The App That Could Put Wildlife Poachers Out Of Business

The (WCS) China Wildlife Guardian App is a 2015 Tech Awards laureate in the Intel Environment category. It will be honored with the other laureates at The Tech Awards gala in November.

The problem: How to stop illegal wildlife smuggling
The solution: The Wildlife Guardian App, which helps law enforcement officers quickly identify legal status of commonly traded species
Region of impact: China
Home base: Beijing, China

Following is a Q&A with Lishu Li, Executive Manager of the Wildlife Conservation Society China Program. It has been edited for length and clarity.

What is your mission?

The WCS China Program designed and developed the Wildlife Guardian App to address the challenge faced by border officers by providing a smart tool to identify species with a few finger taps, along with species’ protected status. This mission is especially targeted at supporting the decision-making process of law enforcement officers during operations, when the primary concern is whether the trade is licit or not.

How did you first decide to tackle the problem?

Since 2009, WCS has provided trainings to over 1,000 law enforcement officers across China on wildlife species identification. But they didn’t retain all the knowledge. To overcome this, WCS China developed and released a smartphone app for law enforcement officers that provides a step-by-step approach to identification and the legal status of 500 commonly traded products and species. It is the first app customized for wildlife law enforcers in China.

What does being a Tech Awards laureate mean to you?

The team working on this project is very thrilled to be a Tech Awards laureate. It is a great honor and recognition to our work. We are greatly encouraged. The grant ensures financial support to our work at the next stage, maintaining service for our current users and improving functions and the next upgrade.

This year marks the 15th annual gala of The Tech Awards, often referred to as the Oscars of Silicon Valley. It will take place Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center, where 10 laureates, a Global Humanitarian, and a Laureate Impact Award winner will be honored for their work using technology to benefit humanity.

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