Two apps to help Indonesian officials track illegal animal trade

Upcoming tools for law enforcement and wildlife officials.

Two apps are being built to help officials in Indonesia track illegal trade in animals. One app will allow users to collect data in Indonesian bird markets “while pretending to send a text”, says Planet Indonesia, a non profit that is building the app. It will collect data on birds’ species, price and origin. The app could be easy for anyone to use, whether they are a wildlife official or a concerned citizen. If a user doesn’t know the name of the bird or its species, they can use an online directory of images to identify it. The second app is more sophisticated, using genetic data to identify confiscated animals. It is, however, limited to Slow Lorises, an endangered species that are popular pets. With a genetic database, the app can be used to identify the species and geographic origins of a confiscated Slow Loris. This data can be used to map trade and poaching hotspots, providing law enforcement officials with information for criminal investigations. The app is being built by Yayasan Inisiasi Alam Rehabilitasi Indonesia, a non-profit that rescues domestic and wild animals. It hopes that the data can help non-profits and researchers provide feedback on Indonesian laws and policies to protect the Slow Loris. Both apps were winners of the US Government’s Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge. The developers will get US$10,000 and technical support from the US Agency for International Development to build the apps.