New technology to combat illegal wildlife trade in Vietnam


A Customs Officer uses WildScan to identify a protected Hamilton’s turtle

A Customs Officer uses WildScan to identify a protected Hamilton’s turtle

WildScan, an endangered species identification and response mobile phone application, was launched in Vietnam today to provide local law enforcement officials with an effective tool to combat wildlife trafficking.

WildScan was first launched in Thailand last year, but the new availability of the application in Vietnamese language and its upgrade to include many additional species and information related to Vietnam, will support ongoing efforts to tackle the illegal wildlife trade in Vietnam.

The mobile application contains a unique identification function, high resolution photos and critical information for over 300 endangered species and illegal wildlife products commonly trafficked into and throughout Southeast Asia, as well as essential animal care instructions and a simple reporting system. It is designed to enable frontline wildlife law enforcement agencies to efficiently and accurately identify, report, and handle animals and animal products caught in the illegal wildlife trade, without the need for large reference books.

The Vietnamese upgrade of WildScan and its launch in Vietnam was supported by the Biodiversity Conservation Agency (BCA) under the Vietnam Environment Administration (VEA) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE); working in co
llaboration with Freeland, a Bangkok-based counter trafficking organization; under the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) program.

As part of the launch, a training workshop on the WildScan app was also provided for local law enforcement officials, to ensure the access and effective use of the tool by those who need it the most.

“We are pleased to support the launch of WildScan in Vietnam as a new approach to empower not only law enforcement officials, but also the general public, in identifying and reporting illegal wildlife trade,” said Dr. Nguyen The Dong, VEA Deputy General Director. “Mobilizing greater support and capacity to control illegal wildlife consumption and trade is a priority issue for biodiversity conservation efforts in Vietnam, and we hope this app will become a valuable tool to help protect our endangered species.”

The launch of WildScan is just one of a series of events and activities being carried out in Vietnam by BCA and Freeland under the ARREST program during the month of May, to celebrate International Biodiversity Day (May 22) and raise awareness of the negative consequences for all of society caused by wildlife trafficking and the unsustainable consumption of endangered species.

The series of events will also include an expanded presentation of the Wildlife Friendly Skies awareness training program for airport officials, which will be held on May 12, to enhance the detection of and response to wildlife trafficking cases at Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport.

The Wildlife Friendly Skies program was previously presented in Hanoi in January 2015, and BCA is again partnering with the Northern Airport Authority of Vietnam to organize the training for more than 150 officers working on the ground in customs, cargo handling, quarantine services and other departments. The training will be facilitated by law enforcement and wildlife experts from Freeland, and include real case studies to illustrate the scale and seriousness of wildlife smuggling, tips on how to identify wildlife species and products, how to profile traffickers, and examples of smuggling methods.

Other activities being carried out by BCA and Freeland under the ARREST program, in recognition of International Biodiversity Day include:

  • Releasing four new Public Service Announcements (PSAs), each featuring an influential Vietnamese leaders urging the public to protect Vietnam’s endangered species by not using wildlife products. The PSAs will be aired on national television channels throughout May and June.

  • The launch of a “Clean-up Campaign”, involving the installation of billboards, banners and other print materials displaying wildlife protection messages, in strategic public locations within four inner districts of Hanoi.

  • Rolling out the counter-wildlife trafficking airport campaign at Noi Bai Domestic Airport, with the placement of billboards and banners targeting passengers travelling through airports.

WildScan is available for free download on Android devices via Google Play. Visit for more information.

For more information, please contact:

Biodiversity Conservation Agency
Ms. Ha Thi Minh Thang
Program Officer
+84 4 3795 5471

Matthew Pritchett
Deputy Director of Communications
+662 254 8321

Notes to Editor:

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is an independent U.S. Government Agency that operates under the foreign policy direction of the U.S. Secretary of State. Following 50 years of improving lives through development and humanitarian assistance, USAID is the principal U.S. Government development agency partnering with countries throughout the world to promote peace, prosperity, and security. Please visit or follow USAID on @USAIDAsia or for more information.

Freeland is a frontline counter-trafficking organization working for a world that is free of wildlife trafficking and human slavery.  Our team of law enforcement, development and communications specialists work alongside partners in Asia, Africa and the Americas to build capacity, raise awareness, strengthen networks and promote good governance to protect critical ecosystems and vulnerable people. Freeland is also the lead implementing partner of “ARREST” (Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking), the U.S. Government’s largest counter-wildlife trafficking program in Southeast Asia, sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). For more info, visit also; follow Freeland on twitter @FREELANDpeopleor

Biodiversity Conservation Agency (BCA) is a department of the Vietnam Environment Administration (VEA), a subsidiary body of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE). BCA advises and assists MONRE in the state management of biodiversity resources in Vietnam, including conservation and sustainable development.

BCA is responsible for the development and submission of policies, strategies and plans on environment and biodiversity; implementing nationwide monitoring and assessment of biodiversity; providing guidance on the conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems, and the conservation of species and genetic resources; raising public awareness and conducting education and training on nature and biodiversity conservation; implementing various projects relating to biodiversity conservation; and monitoring Vietnam’s adherence to several biodiversity-related international conventions.

Further information about WildScan. Freeland created WildScan through a collaborative partnership between academics, law enforcement officials, scientists and other wildlife specialists, under the USAID-funded Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) Program.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) also played a large role in WildScan’s development, with support from various specialist groups of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission and Red List Authorities, verifying the information provided for many of the endangered species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) contributed knowledge on the wildlife products section. The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the World Animal Protection (WAP) provided detailed temporary care instructions and Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University contributed to information that will be used to help warn users of potential disease wildlife can transmit to humans.

ASEAN-WEN, an integrated ASEAN enforcement body composed of environmental police and customs officials working together to combat wildlife and marine resources trafficking in Southeast Asia, has also supported the development of the application from the start, which first began with the digitization and upgrade of their own species ID manual.

International Day for Biological Diversity Since 2000, the UN General Assembly has adopted 22 May as the International Day for Biological Diversity to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues around the world. In 2015, the theme of the day is biodiversity for sustainable development, and the essential links between human wellbeing, sustainable development, and biodiversity. In Vietnam, many activities to recognize this day will focus on the impact that illegal wildlife consumption and trade have on biodiversity and sustainable development.