Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE)

Establishing a Long Term System
for Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE)

2. Background to the process

2.1 CITES Decisions

At the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES, held in Harare in June 1997, the decision was made to transfer the African elephant populations of Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe from CITES Appendix I to Appendix II and to allow limited commercial trade in raw ivory from these countries to Japan in 1999 (see Decision 10.1). A second decision was taken to allow the registration and disposal of ivory stocks in all African elephant Range States (see Decision 10.2). Before trade or sale under these decisions can occur, several conditions must be met, including the development of international monitoring systems for illegal killing of elephants and for illegal trade in ivory and other elephant products.

The Parties also adopted CITES Res. Conf. 10.10 (Rev. CoP16) which included a description of the required systems for monitoring of illegal hunting of and trade in elephant products which stated that:


"a) a comprehensive international monitoring system shall be established under the supervision and direction of the Standing Committee with the objectives of:

i) measuring and recording current levels and trends of illegal hunting and trade in ivory in African and Asian range states, and in trade entrepots;
ii) assessing whether and to what extent observed trends are a result of changes in the listing of elephant populations in the CITES appendices and/or the resolution of legal international trade in ivory; and
iii) establishing an information base to support the making of decisions on appropriate remedial action in the event of any problems with compliance or potential detriment to the species; and
b) this monitoring system shall be in accordance with the framework outlined in Annex 1 [of Res. Conf. 10.10 (Rev. CoP16)] for monitoring of illegal trade in ivory and other elephant specimens and in Annex 2 [of Res. Conf. 10.10 (Rev. CoP16)] for monitoring of illegal hunting in elephant range states."

The Resolution requests that not only is a measurement of levels and trends required but also that the causes of any changes in these levels be assessed. For the issue of causality to be addressed, additional information is needed to help determine whether or not changes in these levels and trends are the result of decisions taken by the Parties to CITES, or due to other factors.

The Parties called upon the IUCN Species Survival Commission's African (AfESG) and Asian (AsESG) Elephant Specialist Groups and the TRAFFIC Network to assist in the development and implementation of the required international monitoring systems for the monitoring of illegal hunting and trade in elephant specimens. The present proposal is in direct response to the decisions and resolutions as they pertain to the illegal killing of elephants.

2.2 Required actions taken to date

IUCN/SSC began the formal process of developing this system in December 1997 when, together with TRAFFIC, they convened an expert workshop to address the technical aspects of their design and implementation. The required international monitoring system was conceived as having two components one for the monitoring of legal and illegal trade in elephant products and the second for the monitoring of illegal killing of elephants. The information collected from these two systems would later be integrated to allow the assessment called for by the Parties.

TRAFFIC is now developing an enhanced trade monitoring system. The new system, the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS), will expand the present capabilities of TRAFFIC's existing Bad Ivory Database System (BIDS) and move towards the development of an integrated trade monitoring information system.

Development of the illegal killing system has proved a bigger task, as there is currently no international monitoring system of any kind in place. Therefore, the design and development of this system required starting from scratch. Over the past year, the system for monitoring the illegal killing of elephants (MIKE) has been developed by IUCN/SSC's African and Asian Elephant Specialist Groups through dedicated workshops and extensive consultations. A key decision was that the system must be developed on the basis of individual sites and that these sites must form an unbiased, representative sample across the African and Asian elephant Range States.

In March 1998, IUCN/SSC and TRAFFIC presented their initial recommendations to the 40th meeting of the CITES Standing Committee in London. With regard to the monitoring of illegal killing, it was recommended that a two-tiered process be put in place. The first tier to deal with the question of interim reporting between the tenth Conference of the Parties in June 1997 and the 41st meeting of the Standing Committee in February 1999 and the second to deal with the further development of a long-term monitoring system.

The interim step includes the implementation of a system of national level reporting and the development of a system for the verification of unofficial, independent reports of illegal killing. The implementation of these two interim actions is to be undertaken by the CITES Secretariat. The compilation of national data, rather than site-specific data, was chosen for the interim reporting system since this information is all that may be accessible in the short time available and may provide insights to the decisions to be taken in February 1999. With the assistance of IUCN/SSC, a notification was drafted and sent to the Parties on 30 June 1998 (No. 1998/30). This notification supplied the necessary form for national level reporting and instructions for its completion. The establishment of the system for verifying unofficial reports is currently underway at the Secretariat.

The Standing Committee further agreed that the IUCN/SSC should continue the work it has started to develop the second stage, a plan for the long-term, site-based monitoring of illegal killing (MIKE) and funds were committed from the CITES Trust Fund to support these actions. Since that time, IUCN/SSC has completed the site selection exercise, continued to refine the data collection protocols and the overall design of the system and begun the development of a full funding proposal for MIKE. The details of the proposed system and the preliminary estimated cost of its full implementation for Africa and Asia are summarised in this document. Estimated costs of the central technical co-ordination unit are provided.

The next step will be for the relevant range states, the CITES Secretariat, IUCN and TRAFFIC to agree on the final form of these international reporting and monitoring systems. The Secretariat will then report this agreement to the 41st meeting of the Standing Committee in February 1999.

3. Description of the proposed long term monitoring system (MIKE)
1. Executive Summary