2018 Global Citizenship Review

The Zoological Society of London goes high-tech in the fight against poaching

Our intellectual property lawyers help ZSL secure rights to the technology to monitor endangered animals.

Image: Polar bear cubs waking up from anesthesia after receiving lip tattoos and ear tags, Wapusk National Park, Canada


The tool is a cutting-edge wildlife and threat monitoring system designed for the world’s most demanding environments.

ZSL (the Zoological Society of London) both operates the highly successful London and Whipsnade Zoos and is a key player in promoting global animal conservation. It focuses on three areas—wildlife and people, wildlife health and “wildlife back from the brink”—to drive efforts to save some of the world’s most endangered species.

Our London IP lawyers have been working with ZSL on its transformational Instant Detect tool, a cutting-edge wildlife and threat monitoring system designed for the world’s most demanding environments, from the Antarctic to the Sahara Desert. Combining camera traps and acoustic sensors to detect humans and wildlife, satellite technology sends the data back in real time from virtually anywhere in the world. It serves as an early warning system to tackle the illegal wildlife trade, one of the biggest pressures on wild animals today.

Our lawyers negotiated on ZSL’s behalf to achieve the best possible IP terms, leading to successful trials in seven locations and the opportunity to scale it with multiple technology partners in the future. London IP partner Philip Trillmich, who led this work, said: “We are delighted to use our core legal skills to support such an innovative project that works directly to protect wildlife.”

“Conservation is a huge task, so working in partnership with businesses like White & Case on global issues really helps us to face these challenges and achieve better outcomes for wildlife,” commented Sandra Crewe, Head of Corporate Partnerships for ZSL.

Our relationship with ZSL is a long one, starting when we joined as one of the first corporate members in 2012. Among many benefits for both organizations, our people in London enjoy volunteering at ZSL London Zoo. In the course of more than 60 hours of volunteering in 2018, our people prepared “browse”—highly compact and nutritious food for the animals to eat in winter.

Our pro bono work with ZSL covers both its day-to-day corporate legal needs and its global conservation efforts. This has included the challenge of helping ensure ZSL remains eligible for EU funding post-Brexit, as well as ongoing employment, retail and contractual requirements.


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