The trade in illegal wildlife is worth up to£17 billion a year globally. Now the the UK Foreign Office are bringing together leading technology companies and conservationists to develop new and innovative ways to combat the trade.

On Monday, the UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson brought together companies including Google, Amazon Web Services, Cisco and Dimension Date as well as the umbrella body TechUK and government Technology experts from Catapult centres to hear the challenges the conservation sector is facing as it tackles and combats the illegal wildlife trade. They heard the the trade is a highly organised and sophisticated criminal industry.

The meeting was co chaired by the Minister for the illegal Wildlife Trade, Mark Field and attendees also included the Zoological Society of London and The Royal Foundation.  It is the first meeting in a series that will take place throughout the summer in the run up to the London 2018 Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference later in the year,  in October.

The aim is to deliver technological solutions to combat poaching and to make it easier to spot animals in danger in the wild and to identify illegal wildlife products at borders and further workshops will bring experts and conservationist together to deliver these objectives.

.Addressing the meeting the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said: “I’ve just come back from the Amazon, one of Earth’s natural wonders, where both animals and people are suffering at the hands of criminals who are committing horrible wildlife crimes. What I saw has only sharpened my determination to combat the blight of the illegal wildlife trade. I want to make sure we’re using all the great talent we have available to us to fight this problem, so I’m calling on our finest technological brains to help us in the battle to save some of the world’s most endangered species.”

Julian David, CEO of TechUK said. “Whether it is blockchain to support supply chain transparency and assurance or drones, satellites and the internet of things-enabled solutions to monitor activity in national parks and areas of high scientific interest, new tech is revolutionising conservation across the world. techUK and its members are excited to work with the FCO on a sector led approach to combating illegal wildlife crime.”

Last month, the government published its Ivory Bill which, when passed, will be one of the toughest bans on ivory sales in the world.