Throughout December, Freeland promoted WildScan, a species identification app to tourists visiting Thailand. Through public outreach events, Freeland encouraged the public to download the app and report wildlife crime, a serious issue in Southeast Asia with a global black market value of US$19 billion. Banners at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport reached more than 100,000 passengers a day and there were also demonstrations to tourists in the beach resort towns of Pattaya and Phuket. Many of the tourists engaged were unaware that wildlife trafficking is common in Southeast Asia and that posing for photos with wild animals can contribute to the illegal wildlife trade.
WildScan is designed to support law enforcement to quickly identify endangered species commonly trafficked in the region, but is also available for the public to report suspected wildlife crime through the app. More than 400 people have downloaded the app since its launch last September. WildScan was produced as part of the USAID-supported Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking Program (ARREST). The public has begun to submit reports through the app, which have then been forwarded to relevant law enforcement agencies. Freeland has already begun expanding and translating the application for officers and public use in other regional countries.