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WildScan app to help fight animal trafficking

Authorities inspect confiscated animals after they were seized during a raid in Kandal province earlier this year. Wildlife Alliance
Authorities inspect confiscated animals after they were seized during a raid in Kandal province earlier this year. Wildlife Alliance

WildScan app to help fight animal trafficking

A Khmer version of a smartphone app to help law enforcement deal with the illegal wildlife trade was launched yesterday.

WildScan was developed in Thailand by anti-wildlife trafficking organisation Freeland and funded by USAID as part of a five-year, $12 million response to endangered species across Southeast Asia and China.

The app helps users identify animals using photos and a process of elimination and contains 600 pages of information about 350 animals. It also links them to wildlife crime hotlines and animal rescue centres, where users can anonymously lodge reports if they notice something amiss.

Amy Van Nice, Wildlife Alliance’s deputy program director, said the app could be used by anyone – from jungle-exploring tourists to restaurant diners. WildScan project manager Matthew Pritchett said the app would be particularly helpful to law enforcement officers.

“Cambodia is increasingly being used to traffic wildlife from other countries, from more than thousands of kilometres away, that local law enforcement . . . may not be familiar with,” he said.

Lun Panha, a Forestry Administration officer, welcomed the app. “It helps a lot, especially as it tells me . . . which animals are rare or endangered species,” he said.

Andrea Stone, USAID’s natural resources officer, said the need for the app was keen, as wild animals continue to be targeted for their meat in Cambodia, but commended recent government efforts to prevent the cross-border crime.

Additional reporting by Erin Handley

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