Challenge Sponsor organisation
National Parks Authority & Scottish Natural Heritage
Exploration stage kickoff:
Challenge narrative: what the problem is, its background and context; why it’s important to solve the problem, the benefits solving it would trigger, and the parts of society that would receive those benefits
Wildlife crime is difficult to combat, prevent and apprehend as it generally takes place in remote areas away from population, and involves species that cover significant distances. This is especially true of birds of prey - or raptors. It’s also on the increase, threatens the health of the environments it occurs in, and is also a criminal activity - so those involved take significant steps to cover up any evidence of the incident, and their involvement in it.
In Scotland we use small satellite transmitters [attached harmlessly to birds of prey] to monitor them and study their ecology. They can also help us prevent and / or identify wildlife crime hot spots. But the upload of information from these transmitters is not constant, and the number of birds whose transmitters suddenly stop operating is increasing. When site searches take place, they often fail to find the bird or the transmitter. We think that at least in some of these cases, the transmitters are being deliberately disabled by humans: we don’t know the ways in which this is done but think they will include physical destruction and / or burying.
So the Challenge is this –
How can we combat bird of prey persecution? Is there a technological solution that could help reduce raptor crime by making it difficult for anyone to kill a bird without getting caught? Or is there a way to ensure we can find destroyed or hidden transmitters? Or at the very least, is there a way we can be certain of the last known location – one accurately recorded and in a tamper proof way?
Why the Challenge Sponsor is focused on this
Raptor persecution is a significant issue for Scotland and for the Cairngorms National Park. Finding a new solution to this challenge is needed.
The attempts [if any] the Challenge Sponsor has made to find a solution to the problem - and why they’re not fit for purpose
Not specifically although there are existing technologies for satellite tagging birds. Many of the satellite transmitters used in Scotland are supplied by Microwave Telemetry who are based in the USA http://www.microwavetelemetry.com/index.cfm At least three types of transmitters are used, they are battery powered Argos/GPS transmitters and solar powered Argos/GPS transmitters which both use the Argos satellite tracking system. Another system utilises the digital cellular networks using solar powered GSM/GPS transmitters. The transmitters vary in size and in UK they must be less than the 3% recommended maximum of the host’s body weight. The transmitters are available in a variety of weights up to 105gr and they can be programmed to transmit their data at a variety of intervals.
The fate of a missing bird with a transmitter cannot be determined if the corpse cannot be located. Furthermore, without a corpse and identification of how and where the bird died it is difficult to progress any investigations to determine if a wildlife crime has taken place. We need to get one step ahead of wildlife criminals.
Who are the end users?
Government Agencies, Conservation Organisations
What the Challenge Sponsor would like to see from the solution
A simple, robust, cost effective solution that helps to reduce raptor persecution.
What would success look like in measurable terms?
What is the one metric that matters?
Cost effective technology that allows easy tracking, provides real time information that cannot be tampered with and ultimately leads to reduction in raptor persecution incidents
We would need to ensure that information collated was secure and that it can be used as evidence in any crime report.
Systems including software, APIs and databases the solution will need to work with and / or integrate with
Not sure – this might be part of the discussion with applicants.
What’s in it for the successful solution provider: the commercial opportunity from initial contracts to national and international potential
If there was a solution found that significantly reduced raptor persecution it would be a product that conservation organisations, governments etc from around the world would be interested in purchasing.
The stakeholders that would be involved, and the team would require access to