MIKES Event Response Mechanism (MERM)

What is the MERM?

The MIKES Event Response Mechanism (MERM) is part of the new CITES Minimising the Illegal Killing of Elephants and other Endangered Species (MIKES) Project, which is being implemented by CITES in collaboration with participating range States and other partners over a four-year period commencing January 2015, with financial assistance from the European Union. MIKES is part of the CITES MIKE Programme, which is mandated under CITES Resolution 10.10.

The MERM aims to provide support to national wildlife authorities and site managers in responding to sudden increases in the illegal killing of elephants and other targeted flagship species (e.g. rhinos and great apes) in Africa and/or international trade in their products.

At the site level, this can include responding to major outbreaks of poaching of elephants or other target species, as well as a sudden deterioration in law enforcement capabilities (e.g. as a result of loss of infrastructure due to fire, flooding, etc.).

At the national level, this can include responding to major wildlife crime incidents, such as significant seizures of wildlife contraband and sudden escalations in wildlife trafficking.

How to apply for MERM support

This MERM Application Form is designed to enable national wildlife agencies and/or national CITES management authorities to easily and quickly submit a request to CITES for MERM support, and for CITES to make a decision about the feasibility of MERM assistance, and the kinds of support required.

Please fill in the MERM application form on a computer (using Adobe Acrobat) and follow the instructions in the form to submit it. A French version of the MERM application form is available here.

Evaluation of requests

The information needed to enable CITES to decide on the feasibility of a potential MERM intervention and the likely nature of the intervention have been incorporated into the MERM application form, and includes the following:

The applicant

Applications will only be accepted from national government agencies. These can be the CITES management authority, or the relevant national wildlife agency (if not the same)

The species impacted

Applications should identify the CITES-listed flagship species that have been impacted by the event, and the scale of the impact (e.g. no. of elephants poached, size of seizure, etc.)

The location

The location of the event should be clearly defined – either in a city or port for wildlife trafficking events, or in a particular site for poaching-related events

The nature of the event

The specific nature of the event should be clearly stated. This should include information on when the event happened, what the circumstances surrounding the event were, who was involved, and any other critical information to enable full understanding of the situation.

Action already being taken to address the event

To ensure that the applicant is committed to resolving the event, details of the actions already underway to address the situation should be provided.

Assistance required

Applicants for MERM support should provide information on the type of assistance that they would like to receive to address the event.

The MIKES national- or site-level Law Enforcement Capacity Assessment, where this has already been completed, may provide additional information to support the design of suitable MERM interventions. Other potential sources of information are the National Ivory Action Plans or ICCWC Toolkit Assessments, were available.

In most instances, it is envisaged that an initial on-site assessment visit will be undertaken by an appropriate specialist or team. These on-site assessments, which are likely to be of 3-10 days in duration (depending on the nature of the event), have two main functions – to provide immediate technical support and advice to help the concerned agency to address the wildlife crime event, and to develop recommendations for follow-up actions that can be supported by the MERM, or by the agency concerned, or potentially by other donors.

For each MERM intervention, it is expected that a specific activity package will be agreed with the host agency. This could either be delivered during the course of the assessment visit, or subsequently. In some cases, it may not be necessary to undertake an assessment visit if the activities to be supported are already clearly defined.

MERM assessment criteria

The following assessment criteria are proposed as a basis for determining the feasibility and desirability of mounting a MERM response:

a)    Significance and scale of the wildlife crime or poaching event

  • Does the event impact on a CITES-listed species targeted by the MIKES project (elephants, rhinos and great apes)?
  • Is the event of sufficient gravity to merit mounting a response? Event gravity may be measured in terms of the number of individuals poached, or the quantity of wildlife products that has been seized. Gravity may also be a factor of the exceptionality of the event – such as a sudden break down in law enforcement capability at the national or site level, a sudden deterioration in law enforcement infrastructure, or an apparent breakdown in the ability of a country to fulfil its CITES obligations.
  • Is this an emergency situation that requires short-term interventions to mitigate it, or an ongoing situation that is best dealt with through longer-term interventions? The MERM is primarily designed to be a rapid response mechanism to address short-term wildlife crime situations, and is generally not suitable for launching longer-term interventions. However, in some circumstances MERM could potentially be used to fill a short-term funding or capacity gap if there are good prospects for addressing the long-term needs, or if MERM support could potentially catalyse long-term support.
  • If the event involves CITES-listed species that are not targeted by the MIKES Project, but in other ways the event fulfils the criteria set out here, it may still be desirable to provide support, especially if this support is likely to have indirect benefits for law enforcement for the MIKES targeted species (such as enhanced law enforcement capacity at the national or site level)

b)    Feasibility of mounting a viable response

  • Is the nature of a potential MERM intervention already apparent? This could be indicated by the “nature of MERM assistance required” in the MERM application form, or from the general information about the nature of the event provided in the application form. NB: It is not necessary to have the potential MERM response fully defined at this stage, as this may be undertaken in a MERM assessment visit. However, an initial definition of the likely response is important for determining the feasibility of a MERM intervention.
  • Is the likely MERM intervention realistic in terms of the funding available and the short-term nature of MERM interventions?
  • Is the likely intervention needed acceptable to CITES? For example, CITES is not able to support the provision of arms and ammunition, and cannot support interventions that may have potential human rights dimensions (such as invasion of a protected area by civilians as a result of deteriorating security situation).
  • Is the nature of the MERM intervention logistically feasible and within the scope of CITES and partner agencies? For example, are there any challenging circumstances with regard access to the location of the event, or general insecurity that may impact on the feasibility of undertaking an assessment visit, or undermine the sustainability of MERM assistance? Does the situation require a military intervention, as opposed to a conservation intervention?
  • Are there any other agencies working at the site or location of the event that could potentially facilitate MERM assistance? The existence of another suitable agency may expedite MERM support and ease logistical challenges. Alternatively, if another agency is already addressing the issue, this may remove the need for MERM assistance.

c)    Government commitment

  • Has the agency applying for MERM support demonstrated their commitment to addressing the event? For example has the agency provided adequate information concerning the nature of the event and the circumstances leading up to it.
  • Has the agency already taken steps to address the situation within their means?
  • Has the agency indicated their willingness to host and facilitate a MERM initial assessment visit?
  • If the potential MERM intervention has been instigated by the CITES Secretariat or another appropriate agency, is there a reasonable likelihood of receiving government support for a MERM intervention, and are the steps for achieving this apparent?
  • Are there any other important aspects of a potential MERM intervention that need to be taken into account in deciding on the feasibility of a MERM intervention, and/or in the design of the supported activities?


CITES LogoMIKE logoEU Flag   ACP Logo

MIKES and its MERM are an Initiative of the ACP Secretarat, funded by the European Union under the 10th EDF