Grand Challenge

The World Wildlife Fund estimates that the wildlife trafficking industry is annually worth nearly $10 billion. The illegal wildlife trade is booming as poachers and traffickers now hack into GPS tracking devices located on endangered animals to more easily track and kill protected animals, and sell those animals and their parts illegally on the Internet using code words to hide their activities from law enforcement. Many protected species are on the brink of extinction primarily because of wildlife trafficking. For example, there are only 2,500 Bengal tigers left in the wild, and those tigers sell for upwards of $50,000 each on the black market. The poaching of rhinos for their horns has reached crisis levels, growing from six poached rhinos in 2001 to over 1,116 in 2014 in South Africa alone. Another high-profile animal, the African elephant, is under increased threat from poachers — over 100,000 elephants have been poached for their ivory in the last three years. Central Africa has lost 64 percent of its elephants in the last decade. While policy, regulatory, enforcement, and funding issues all play a significant role in this crisis, improved technologies for tracking and protecting animals are a key piece of the solution.

Draft Guidelines

The Wildlife Tracking and Poaching Prevention XPRIZE will incentivize teams to develop low-cost, easily deployable, and highly reliable tracking devices for protected species that contain the highest levels of cybersecurity to prevent hacking. To reduce the stress on animals that are tagged for tracking, the teams’ solutions must be small, lightweight (less than 5 kg for elephants and rhinos, and 2 kg for large cats, for example), and nonintrusive to the animals’ natural behaviors. The solutions must provide active location data (via GPS, very high frequency (VHF) radio, or other) in a highly secure manner to prevent hacking by poachers and traffickers. The level of cybersecurity provided by the tracking systems for data in transit and stored data will be the key criteria for determining the winning team. The solutions are expected to integrate innovative approaches to access control and cryptography, among other security measures. The solutions will be field tested using existing conservation programs, most likely in Africa or India. The Wildlife Tracking and Poaching Prevention XPRIZE will bring together conservationists and computer specialists, including hackers to preserve the world’s most majestic natural resources and preserve our natural heritage for future generations.

To find out how you can help support this XPRIZE, please email [email protected].


Additional Future Prize Concepts

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