Google Joins Fight Against Illegal Poaching

The World Wildlife Fund and the Consortium for the Barcode of Life are two of the winners in the first round of Google's Global Impact Awards. The organizations will  receive a total of $8 million to put toward conservation projects.

The WWF will use its $5 million to test, adapt and implement technology to improve the detection of poachers across Africa and Asia. The focus will be on specialized sensors and wildlife tagging technology that rangers will use along with analytical software while on patrol. The organization hopes the project will cut down the illegal wildlife trade, estimated to be worth $7-10 billion annually.


The Smithsonian Institution's Consortium for the Barcode of Life will use its $3 million in the creation of DNA barcoding, a system that will help border officials identify endangered species as traffickers try to bring them across borders.

Of the 35,000 endangered species on the planet, 2,000 are protected from illegal international trade under a UN treaty. Intercepting wildlife as it is taken across borders is crucial to fighting this business and prosecuting traffickers. However, current detection tools are too slow, unreliable, expensive — or simply unavailable — in the developing countries where most of the protected species live. DNA barcoding will allow officials a fast, cost-effective and standardized way to identify species using a global database.

CBOL will work with researchers in six developing countries to assemble the database and will train enforcement officials on how to use the technology.

Google's Global Impact Awards aim to support organizations that use "technology and innovative approaches to tackle some of the world's toughest human challenges," according to the website. In the first round, Google distributed a total of $23 million to various organizations.

To read more about the projects, visit the Global Impact Awards website.