The usage of 3D printing technology for creating animal parts can contribute to the decrease in black market trading.

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In the lush rainforests of India’s Arunachal Pradesh, there is a community called the Nyishi who have a longstanding tradition of adorning themselves with animal parts, such as tiger teeth, as a symbol of strength and protection. However, with the decline in wildlife numbers, this practice has raised ethical concerns, and understandably, the tigers themselves are not too pleased about it either.

In response to this dilemma, a startup called Arunachal Ivory and Ornaments has emerged with a unique solution. Entrepreneurs Nabam Bapu and Anang Tadar have teamed up to create 3D printed replicas of animal parts, including tiger and clouded leopard teeth and eagle talons. These replicas serve as alternative options to the real animal parts that were traditionally used in the community’s headgear, which were obtained through hunting.

Over a span of two years, Bapu and Tadar have developed a variety of materials for their 3D printed replicas, ranging from synthetic resin to eco-friendly alternatives. It was important for them to ensure the authenticity and quality of these replicas. To accomplish this, they consulted with village elders who have extensive experience in hunting and wildlife identification, in order to maintain cultural authenticity and gain community support.

So far, Arunachal Ivory and Ornaments has successfully produced over 100 replicas of various animal parts and has plans to create 3D printouts of a great Indian hornbill’s beak. This initiative is particularly meaningful in Arunachal Pradesh, where traditional dress holds a high value and the demand for animal parts remains significant. By offering a more affordable and ethical option, the startup aims to combat the continued illegal wildlife trade that fuels the poaching of endangered species.

The black market for genuine animal parts can cost a fortune, perpetuating the illicit trade and endangering wildlife further. Arunachal Ivory and Ornaments hopes to change this narrative by providing accessible alternatives and discouraging hunting. However, their success in this endeavor relies heavily on convincing influential local institutions to adopt their products and actively discourage the use of genuine animal parts.

By leveraging technology to promote cultural practices and conserve wildlife, Bapu and Tadar believe they can make a significant impact in the fight against illegal wildlife trade and the preservation of endangered species. They are determined to use their startup to make a difference, despite the challenges that come with combatting poaching.

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