WildScan, an endangered species identification and response mobile phone application, was launched in Vietnam today 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 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,” said Dr. Nguyen The Dong, VEA Deputy General Director.
“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.”
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.
Other activities being carried out by BCA and Freeland under the ARREST program, in recognition of International Biodiversity Day include:
Releasing four new Public Service Announcements (PSAs), each featuring an influential Vietnamese leaders urging the public to protect Vietnam’s endangered species by not using wildlife products. The PSAs will be aired on national television channels throughout May and June.
The launch of a “Clean-up Campaign”, involving the installation of billboards, banners and other print materials displaying wildlife protection messages, in strategic public locations within four inner districts of Hanoi.
Rolling out the counter-wildlife trafficking airport campaign at Noi Bai Domestic Airport, with the placement of billboards and banners targeting passengers travelling through airports.
WildScan is available for free download on Android devices via Google Play. Visit www.wildscanapp.com for more information.