The inaugural Zoohackathon event kicks off at ZSL London Zoo this evening (Friday 7 Oct) with an urgent call for coders, creatives and conservationists to join together and find digital solutions to tackle the illegal wildlife trade crisis.
A U.S. Department of State initiative, the Zoohackathon will see ZSL (Zoological Society of London), in partnership with the US Embassy, take part in a simultaneous event with zoos across the globe, inviting the brightest technological minds to tackle illegal wildlife trade - one of the greatest threats facing the world’s wildlife today.
Participants at the weekend-long event are being asked to respond to one of a selection of challenge statements, authored by world-leading experts including conservationists from ZSL’s own pioneering Conservation Technology Unit (CTU).
With ZSL’s vast datasets to hand, teams will be tasked with creating technological solutions to help prevent some of the world’s best loved species being pushed to the brink of extinction.
Sophie Maxwell, head of ZSL’s CTU, said: “With wildlife populations halved in the last 40 years and the illegal wildlife trade reaching unprecedented levels, the need for modern solutions to solve this issue has never been greater.
“Sadly, technology itself has in many ways fuelled the vast expansion of this illicit industry, so we’re fighting fire with fire and seeking out the most innovative technological solutions to tackle every aspect of the trade, from reducing demand for these items to attempting to track their source.
“ZSL London Zoo is the perfect inspirational setting for the event – with some of the world’s most endangered animals just metres away, attendees will have the chance to come face to face with the incredible species that they’ll be working to protect.”
Speakers from renowned organisations such as WWF, Stop Ivory and Save the Elephants will be on hand throughout the weekend to give inspiring talks and teams will be judged by a panel of esteemed judges from across the worlds of coding and conservation.
Jonathan Baillie, ZSL’s Director of Conservation, said: “The pressure that the illegal wildlife trade is putting on species such as elephants, rhinos and pangolins has reached crisis level. It’s time to use every tool in our arsenal to prevent these animals from being lost forever. The Zoohackathon will be the ideal chance for us to find some inventive new tactics to overcome this threat.”
All participants are in with a chance of winning the £2,000 prize fund, and to have their idea turned into reality by ZSL’s Conservation Technology Unit. Winners will be announced on Sunday 9 Oct.
For more information or to sign up for the event, visit www.zsl.org/Zoohackathon