ITU Blog: Tracking illegal wildlife trade with #BigData

Great apes have disappeared from Gambia, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo; a subspecies of Javan rhino went extinct in Vietnam in 2011 and the last western black rhinos have vanished from Cameroon; and up to 73 million sharks are killed a year for their fins.

The illegal wildlife trade has driven species to the brink of extinction and continues to endanger our global biodiversity. Though efforts to curb this activity have achieved some success, many animals are still at risk. This illegal activity has a wider socio-economic impact too, undermining economies, fueling organized crime, and feeding insecurity across the globe.

The need for innovative solutions and improved data to facilitate interventions to stop illegal wildlife trade has been noted by the United Nations and USAID-supported Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge.

Big data has the potential to fill this need. As noted by ITU News, “analysing more data in shorter spaces of time can lead to better, faster decisions in areas spanning finance, health and research.”

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