Sea turtles have been survived for millions of years, but now face extinction.\u00a0 as poachers. How do you protect sea turtles eggs on remote, miles-long beaches in developing countries from poachers working in the dark?\nGlobal System for Mobile Communications, or GSM, enabled IoT trackers may provide an answer to this scourge.\nBackground\nPoachers kill sea turtles for their shells and their eggs are considered a delicacy and aphrodisiac. Sad but true. The trade of sea turtle products is restricted, but that doesn\u2019t stop poachers. Tracking this illegal trafficking is difficult. The transit routes and final destinations are unknown.\nSea turtle products are the second most frequently trafficked wildlife product smuggled from Latin America to the US. Eggs are a quarter of illegal imports and most originate in Mexico or Central America. This trade is devastating to turtle populations. A recent shipment of a thousand turtle eggs that was intercepted at the Mexico\/U.S. border represented nearly 5 percent of the year\u2019s total egg production for the beach from which they were poached!\nHuge profit margins drive this illegal trade. A single turtle egg can sell for up to $300 on the international market! The initial poachers are often poor local villagers or small gangs. But, the middlemen trafficking the eggs are often part of networks dedicated to drug and human trafficking. Ths criminal supply chain in illegal wildlife relies on transportation infrastructure, storage facilities, and connections to corrupt business and government officials. Fighting poaching that cross different countries is difficult. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement to control trade in wildlife - but it\u2019s voluntary, and enforcement varies.\nWhat\u2019s needed\nTraffickers transport the stolen turtle eggs using complex routes. Any solution has to detect, monitor, and predict transit routes for law enforcement to be effective. USAID issued a Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge in 2016 to spur innovation of solutions.\nThe non-profit organization Paso Pacifico was a finalist in the \u201cDetect Transit Routes\u201d section of the challenge with its InvestEGGator. The approach uses artificial sea turtles eggs with built-in GSM GPS devices to detect the illegal movement of eggs and to provide data to conservation groups and law enforcement. Fake eggs are placed in sea turtle nests and their movement is tracked as they are transported along the poacher\u2019s illegal supply chains. Paso Pacifico was recently awarded an Acceleration Prize by that same challenge. The National Geographic Society awarded the team a grant to conduct larger scale field trials of the egg.\nRequirements\nThe fake eggs have to meet many product requirements for this solution to work:\n\nThey have to resemble a real sea turtle egg weight and texture.\nThey have to be waterproof\nCapable of working for extended periods of time without recharging.\nLow cost so that many sensors can be placed on different beaches.\nWork across different cellular networks as the eggs are transported across borders.\nEasily manufactured in different countries where they will be deployed\n\nThere are several existing IoT approaches solutions for asset tracking, but they don\u2019t work well for anti-poaching.\n\nPassive RFID:\u00a0where a tag has to be energized by a scanner before it can transmit data upto 20 feet away about the asset\u2019s location.\nActive RFID:\u00a0the tag has its own energy source and can transmit its status to a reader upto 100 feet away.\nWiFi triangulation:\u00a0tracks the location of an item by measuring the strength of WiFi signals from nearby base stations. They\u2019re widely used for indoor location tracking. Satellite based tracking:\u00a0uses tags with the signal strength to send their location to a satellite, but they are typically large, expensive and consume a lot of power.\n\nA different approach is needed that can work well on the beaches and at border crossings. The project also hopes is to install egg-detecting smartphones in strategic locations such as border crossings or airports to catch poachers from the bluetooth signals transmitted by their stolen egg decoys.\nSolution design\nThe InvestEGGator uses artificial polyurethane sea turtle eggs with two covert tracking systems. GSM-GPS tracking device uses existing mobile networks widely available in Central America and throughout the global tropics with sea turtles nest. It incorporates geospatial and on-the-ground monitoring systems allowing real time remote monitoring of illegal egg movements, and identifying the geographic source of the eggs.\nThe sensor has a flexible, leathery shell like a real sea turtle egg. It is 1.5\u201d in diameter and weigh about 2 ounces, like a heavy ping-pong ball. The egg\u2019s weight is a critical as lighter eggs might fall out of the mix and heavier ones might sink. The eggs are built with a 3D printer which lowers their cost and allows them to be made anywhere.\nA multi-discplinary approach\nPoaching is a complex problem that demands a holistic approach for the solution to work. Impoverished villagers, conservationists, technologists, security officials and government authorities are all involved. Sarah Otterstrom is an Ashoka fellow and ideally suited for this challenge. Ashoka is a non-profit that identifies and supports social entrepreneurs such as Sarah. Unlike business entrepreneurs who measure success by profit, social entrepreneurs measure their success by the positive \u201creturn to society\u201d they generate.\nSarah the executive director of Paso Pac\u00edfico, has assembled a broad coalition to develop this anti-poaching solution. Dr. Kim Williams-Guillen, Director of Conservation Science at Paso Pacifico leads the product design and innovation, and Felipe Farme D\u2019Amoed lead the production and scaling planning.\u00a0Hollywood special effects artist Lauren Wilde\u00a0is working on the artificial eggshell.\nSea turtles are one of the most ancient creatures on the planet and have been around for 110\u00a0 million years, since the time of the dinosaurs. Using IoT, InvestEGGator offers the hope that they might survive for a little while longer.