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Here’s your chance to help reduce human-wildlife conflict!

 

Imagine you’re a Canadian living in the Arctic Circle. You’ve recently been told that polar bears have been spotted roaming around your town. You might now be quite scared to walk around your neighbourhood, especially at night on your own.

Polar bear investigates recently collapsed observation tower near Churchill, Canada © WWF-US / Elisabeth KrugerPolar bear investigates recently collapsed observation tower near Churchill, Canada © WWF-US / Elisabeth Kruger

But one day you’re round a friend’s house for dinner and stay later than expected. Your car’s broken down so you need to walk just five minutes down the road to your house. You chance it because you think “well it’s unlikely I’ll come face to face with a polar bear”.

Unfortunately, though, as climate change reduces polar bear habitat, we’re seeing more and more instances of polar bears roaming around villages in the Arctic looking for an easy meal.And what’s worse, this situation isn’t just limited to polar bears. Wild animals from around the world are finding themselves squeezed into smaller and smaller places as humans destroy their habitat and food sources.  In the long-term, we need to reduce our carbon emissions and protect habitat to ensure that wildlife have secure homes and enough food supplies.

In the short-term, how can we make sure that people and wildlife stay safe?

Here’s where technology can play a part. Early warning systems are used to detect and alert locals of approaching animals.

For polar bears, a simple way of being alerted to an approaching polar bear is to place a trip wire around a campsite. When the polar bear walks into the trip wire, an alarm goes off, scaring the bear away and informing the individuals of the nearby animal

However, these trip wires aren’t practical to place around an entire village. Sometimes they even fail to work in small areas too when the snow interferes with the system.

Reducing conflict with tigers: if only it was that simpleReducing conflict with tigers: if only it was that simple

That’s where we need your help!

WWF is looking for technology developers to help us create early warning systems to detect approaching wild animals.  This is so we can reduce human-wildlife conflict.  We’re focusing this work on three key species:

  • Asian elephants in the North Bank, Assam, India
  • Polar bears in Greenland (Denmark), Alaska (US), Svalbard (Norway), Canada or Russia
  • Tigers in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand or Myanmar
Asian elephant bathing. Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India © Martin HarveyAsian elephant bathing. Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India © Martin Harvey

How can you help reduce human-wildlife conflict?

More information on this Human-Wildlife Conflict Technology Challenge can be found on WILDLABS. Proposals should be submitted to HWCtechchallenge@wwf.nl no later than 12 September 2017. Two winners (one for the elephant case and one for the case on carnivores) will be announced on the 20 October 2017. Each winner will receive a prize of 30,000 Euros to further develop their proposed technology and field test the design in a location selected by WWF.

Please share this article with anyone you think might be interested in assisting us develop tools to safeguard people and wildlife. The future of the planet is in our hands and we need your help to protect it.

What WWF-UK is doing to reduce human-wildlife conflict.

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