The U.S. Department of State and USAID has signed a grant with the Uganda Wildlife Conservation and Education Center (UWEC) to host Zoo hackathon 2019 in Entebbe from November 16-17.

Zoo hackathon is a computer coding event that brings together developers, designers, project managers, and subject matter experts to create applications, systems, and tools to help reduce demand for trafficked wildlife products.

For the second year in a row, UWEC will host Zoo hackathon in Entebbe to help reduce global demand for illicit wildlife products and disrupt wildlife trafficking value chains.  This year’s event in Entebbe will run simultaneously with 15 other host cities across the globe.

Teams of coders will compete against one another to develop a prototype solution that responds to one of the provided global and local wildlife trafficking problem statements.  The winning team will earn a local prize that will help them develop their technology solution, and will also compete against winners from other host cities for a global prize.

Uganda is an important destination in the global, black market trade of illicit products, earning it a designation as a focus country in the U.S. Department of State’s 2018 END Wildlife Trafficking Report.

 Sophisticated criminal networks use Uganda as a primary transit hub for illicit products  such as ivory, big cat bones and skins, pangolin scales, and live birds and reptiles intended for the exotic pet trade  that are then transported to countries across Asia and North America.  Because the same global networks are used to traffic wildlife, humans, drugs, arms, and money, disrupting them has broader importance for security, human rights, and ecosystems.

The partnership between UWEC and U.S. Mission Uganda on Zoo hackathon illustrates the continued joint commitment by the United States and Uganda to combat wildlife crime.