On January 20, 2016, USAID announced the Prize Winners for the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge. Paso Pacifico was a winner in the "Detect Transit Routes" category and received $10,000 and technical assistance to further their solutions.
Science and Tech Type: Sensing and Remote Sensing Technologies
Paso Pacifico plans to construct artificial sea turtle eggs that contain covert GSM-GPS tracking devices and forensic markers. These will be placed in nests at high risk of poaching. Once the eggs are poached, their movement can be monitored and mapped, revealing trafficking routes.
The Problem: poachers regularly steal and sell the eggs of four sea turtle species that nest on Central American beaches: Leatherback; Hawksbill; Green; and Olive Ridley. However, little is known about the transit routes that poachers use or where the stolen eggs end up.
The Team: project leader Dr. Kim Williams-Guillen directs Paso Pacifico’s conservation science program and is a visiting scholar at the University of Michigan.
Solution Partners: Wayra-Mexico and NFCGroup will supervise development of tracking devices; the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Dr. David Bothman will provide engineering expertise; Goodnight & Cowill help create the artificial eggshell; and Nicaragua’s Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, the Mexican Center of the Turtle, the Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative, Costa Rica’s Guanacaste Conservation Area, and the Turtle Island Restoration Network will provide additional support.