An endangered species identification and response mobile phone application was launched on May 11 in Viet Nam to combat the illegal hunting and selling of wildlife.
The app, known as WildScan, was first launched in Thailand last year. Its Vietnamese version, and introduction in Viet Nam, was supported by the Biodiversity Conservation Agency (BCA) under the Vietnam Environment Administration (VEA) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, in collaboration with Freeland, a Bangkok-based counter trafficking organisation under the US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Asia's Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) programme.
The app contains an identification function, photos and critical information about more than 300 endangered species and illegal wildlife products commonly trafficked into and throughout Southeast Asia. It also offers essential animal care instructions and a simple reporting system.
"We are pleased to support the launch of WildScan in Viet Nam as a new approach to empower not only law enforcement officials, but also the general public, in identifying and reporting illegal wildlife trade," said Nguyen The Dong, VEA deputy general director. "Mobilising greater support and capacity to control illegal wildlife consumption and trade is a priority for biodiversity conservation efforts in Viet Nam, and we hope this app will become a valuable tool to help protect our endangered species."
Speaking at the launching ceremony, Claire A. Pierangelo, Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Ha Noi, said the launch of the app marked a milestone in Viet Nam's efforts and cooperation to combat wildlife trafficking.
"It is an official law enforcement tool. It comes to Viet Nam because Viet Nam has asked for it," she said. "The US government remains committed to cooperate with Viet Nam and ASEAN countries in combating wildlife trafficking."
The app is accessible for free on Android devices, and will have multiple language-support available in 2015. Users do not need to connect to the Internet to use the app, and it can update and extend data in real time.
The launch of WildScan is one of a series of events being carried out in Viet Nam in May by BCA and Freeland under the ARREST programme to celebrate International Biodiversity Day (May 22), and to raise public awareness about the harm caused by wildlife trafficking and the unsustainable consumption of endangered species.