Photo: Demonstration of a timber sample being collected and transported via water droplets on a microfluidic device.
Transnational environmental crime has become an exponential driver of species extinction, disrupting natural communities, and depleting innumerable species. Increasing demand for wildlife and wildlife products from emerging economies has attracted transnational criminal networks, making wildlife trafficking the fourth largest illicit economy in the world.
As wildlife and timber trafficking has become more organized, more lucrative and more technologically advanced, traffickers have developed new strategies to avoid detection. This arms race has left the officials responsible for stemming the tide increasingly overwhelmed. Customs officials need new technologies that provide enduring advantages over traffickers.