Keeping Wildlife in the Wild

The U.S. Consulate Challenge

This challenge is available for students/recent graduates from Hong Kong & Macau only.

DO YOU NEED INSPIRATION ON HOW TO TACKLE THIS CHALLENGE?

 

AWARENESS


Quantify the Pet Trade in Hong Kong

Many animals sold in the pet markets in Hong Kong are CITES listed, or endangered and sold illegally. For some species, they may be legally sold if they are captive bred, but it is currently difficult to determine which species are captive bred, and many consumers are not aware of the protected or conservation status.
 
Previous work Hong Kong University has done interviewing pet owners in Hong Kong suggests that many are not aware that their pets are protected, or that if so, what paperwork they need to prove the legality of that animal.

Challenge

Develop a solution to raise awareness of what species may be illegal to trade as pets and what the regulations around owning those pets are.
 
Develop a solution to reduce interest in buying endangered/exotic pets.
 
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
 
The illegal wildlife trade is worth billions of dollars with far-reaching ecological, national security, and economic consequences that are undermining decades of conservation and development gains. The expansion of the TCM industry across the world is having a negative impact on the survival of biodiversity in Africa and parts of Asia. Species such as pangolin, tiger, rhino, seahorse and others are under threat from poaching, illegal trade, and over-consumption.
 
Challenge
 
Develop a tech solution that promotes sustainable alternatives to the usage of protected species ingredients by TCM doctors, patients, and suppliers, so that we can reduce TCM consumption to sustainable levels.




WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING

  

Illicit Wildlife Trade Database

 
As a global trade hub, Hong Kong plays a prominent role in the transnational illicit wildlife trade. However, comprehensive data on the trade is lacking, hindering the ability to understand the magnitude of the situation and inform policy and conservation efforts in tackling wildlife trafficking both in Hong Kong and globally.
 
ADM Capital Foundation has developed a basic excel-based Wildlife Product Seizures Database (WiPS) to keep track of seizures and related prosecutions in Hong Kong, based on publicly available data including court monitoring.
 
To date, the information gathering methods and data management have been labor-intensive and prone to human error and data gaps. As examples, difficulties arise in keeping the database updated, documenting single seizures and multiple related prosecutions and in capturing those products and specimens seized in other jurisdictions.
 
The WiPS database has to date nearly a thousand records of wildlife seizures and prosecutions since 2013.
 
Data capture and database management system is needed in light of the growing illegal trade and a consequent number of entries, that would facilitate intense data analysis, visualization, and sharing.
 
In the long run, this database could provide the basis for an online platform and become an authoritative source for information gathering on wildlife trafficking.
 
Challenge
 
How to capture data covering the sources currently accessed to populate WiPS and cross-validate multiple data sources?
 
How to visually and interactively present the information for analysis and data storytelling?
 
 
Facilitate Illegal Wildlife Trafficking Report

Many methods are being deployed on the national, subnational and international levels to combat wildlife trafficking, including anti-poaching campaigns, demand reduction, and public-private partnerships. However, a key precursor to any good investigation are tip-offs from informants.

Informants are significant enablers for increased cooperation among countries exposed to the threats of wildlife trafficking. In Bhutan, the government rewards 100% of fines to wildlife crime informants.

Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) encourages members of the public to provide information on illegal import, export, and possession of endangered species.

A Reward Scheme has been set up, wherein registered informants who provide reliable information leading to the successful seizure of endangered species or conviction will be rewarded with cash. Informant registration is facilitated by the AFCD's Intelligence Unit.

Challenge

How to enable members of the general public to report instances where they encounter illegal wildlife trafficking in an easy, fast, and secure manner?

How to facilitate the transfer of reward money to informants? 
 
 




MARINE LIFE PRESERVATION


Shark Fin Consumption vs. Wildlife Conservation


Sharks are being decimated at unsustainable levels, mainly because of the significant demand in China.

The good news is that shark fin consumption may have peaked a few years ago and is generally on the decline in Hong Kong.

However, “down” definitely does not mean “out.” The problem is that while many young, even middle-aged, people in Hong Kong are now rejecting shark fin at weddings, birthdays or Chinese New Year banquets, the elderly demographic still believes in shark fin as not only a way of displaying wealth and status, but also that shark fin has health benefits.

They erroneously think that it is high in protein and good for you and that its collagen content improves the skin.

Challenge

How to prevent restaurants and local business from selling shark fin?
 
 
Sustainable Consumption of Wildlife Products - Challenge

Currently, there is no proper regulation on labeling and transparency on marine species products in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a key consumption city of seafood, and imports 90% of the seafood from around the world.

Hong Kong is one of the biggest consumers and trade hub of dried fish maw globally. Fish maw, which is the processed air bladder of fish, has been regarded as one of the top four marine delicacies alongside with abalone, sea cucumber, and shark fin in the traditional Chinese culture.

In the past decade, dried fish maw is widely accepted as an alternative to shark fin soup. It is generally believed that fish maw is good for health, especially for skin and recovery after surgery, perhaps due to its high collagen content.

The swim bladder of Totoaba (totoaba macdonaldi) is regarded as the “king of fish maw”. However, Totoaba can only be found in the central and northern Gulf of California, Mexico. The species has been seriously depleted due to overfishing and habitat alteration.

Totoaba is listed as Critically Endangered and is listed on Appendix I of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) since 1977, meaning the commercial trade of this species is prohibited. However, the illegal trade of Totoaba in Hong Kong was unveiled through undercover investigation in 2015.

In 2018, 1.9 kilograms of suspected Totoaba fish maws with an estimated market value of about $300,000 was found in Hong Kong International Airport. Two visitors from Mexico who smuggled fish maws of the endangered totoaba into Hong Kong were jailed for 14 weeks and 10 weeks, respectively. It is known that the illegal trade in Totoaba is linked to organized crime in Mexico.

The trade in the fish maw has also been known to drive or involved the overfishing of at least two other species, including Gulf Corvina from Mexico (Vulnerable in IUCN) and the Chinese Bahaba (Bahaba taipingensis) that occurs along the coast of South China Sea (Critically Endangered in IUCN, also a State Protected Species in mainland China, though still not protected in Hong Kong).

Challenge

How to enable individuals to determine the source of origin of dried fish maw in marketplaces to support sustainable consumption choices?

How to enable authorities to eliminate the products of illegally harvested seafood products from entering legitimate markets?