1. UPDATE FUNDING MIKE AFRICA
The European Union (EU) has requested a change in the budget structure for the MIKE proposal, which was subsequently carried out by the Secretariat.
The proposal is now before the EU revision committee that will meet in the week of the 27th of November.
According to schedule the contract with the EU should be available early December for signature.
The EU will provide 2.4 million Euro out of a total of 3.8 million for 18 months, the remainder being matching funds. The CITES Secretariat is looking for the remaining funds and is very hopeful that the Belgian government will keep its commitment to contribute to the MIKE funding.
The funds will probably be administered through subcontracting agencies.
2. UPDATE MIKE IN OTHER SUBREGIONS
The MIKE structure is now in place in Southern Africa and has yet to be established in each of the remaining subregions in Africa (Central Africa, West Africa and East Africa).
There is some progress in West Africa. The IUCN office there has been chosen to assist the MIKE process.
There has not been any MIKE activity in East Africa so far. However Kenya has expressed interest in basing the central coordination for MIKE there.
3. UPDATE PILOT PROJECT CA AND TRANSITION TO FULL MIKE PROGRAM
A regional meeting for Central Africa (CA) shall be convened early next year. The countries that did not participate in the Pilot Project should be brought into the process and a regional coordinator will need to be selected by partners of the programme.
The last meeting with the steering committee members of the Mike Pilot Project in CA will be held early March (JH). This meeting could serve as the transition meeting for the bigger MIKE project in which case the remaining CA countries will be invited and the CITES Secretariat will assist in the meeting. From that meeting a subregional coordination should be put in place and a timetable should be established. The CA subregion will continue to build on the Pilot Program, extend the programme to other sites (including savannah sites) and engage new countries.
Two meetings will be needed to make the transition to the full MIKE program. At the first meeting with the directors in March, commitment from the governments to the program should be confirmed, a regional coordinator should be designated, and reporting procedures should be laid out. An outline of the terms of reference for a subregional coordinator will be drawn up by the CITES Secretariat in January.
A second meeting should be held with the national elephant officers who will be carrying out the program and will be their first training session for the full mike programme.
National elephant officers and field team leaders should be encouraged to carry out site level data management and analysis of the data to ensure good data collection quality (RB).
On January 23rd a WWF – WCS meeting will be held with the directors of national parks and wildlife departments from Central Africa during which a larger elephant conservation strategy for the region will be discussed. It is essential that agendas for this initiative and MIKE be kept clear and separate to avoid confusion between programs and that MIKE be centrally placed for monitoring elephants and illegal killing.
The Secretariat expects that there will be an in-kind contribution to the program from individual countries. JH pointed out that it would be useful to know for CA countries which in-kind contribution would be acceptable to CITES. Countries will be asked the CITES Secretariat how they believe they could best contribute to the MIKE program. In-kind contribution could for example be making field staff available, providing vehicles and logistics etc. JA emphasised that MIKE is a government-driven programme and should therefore be directed and supported by national governments. CITES will provide training, certain equipment items etc and will have funding to assist national elephant officers in each country. Field team operations during the pilot phase depended heavily on partner support but this may not be sustainable in the future. Dedicated field teams should develop their own financial and logistical support. An assessment of what governments can afford should be made and a simple, pragmatic and sustainable program should be developed taking into account these constraints.
The five countries participating in the pilot programme have already expressed their desire to set up a national elephant program in which MIKE will have its home. Cameroon has already taken concrete steps in this direction. The wildlife director there recognizes that a national elephant program could help push political support for management and conservation of elephants.
During the last meeting of the Pilot Project Steering Committee the national members of the committee requested that transmission of data would go through the directors of wildlife or the national CITES authority before being transmitted to the CITES Secretariat. Much valuable information on illegal killing of elephants may come from intelligence sources and national elephant officers may turn up sensitive information. CITES will need to address these sensitive issues with national governments.
JA pointed out that information on illegal killing and elephants will be coming from outside MIKE sites and that mechanisms to report this information will need to be put in place. He also noted that many reports on poaching never reach the CITES Secretariat and that reporting procedures have to be improved.
The last training of the CA Pilot Project (training 3) will be held in Cameroon in December. National Elephant officers will be instructed what to report to the CITES secretariat in terms of data and summary reports and will actually be requested to send their reports directly to the CITES Secretariat.
The CITES Secretariat would like to see the Cybertracker being used as the primary data collection device at all MIKE sites in Africa.
RB will meet with Louis Liebenberg in Congo this month and discuss its potential use for the MIKE project and technicalities. CITES is considering hiring a full-time technical advisor and trouble shooter for the region. This person would also be responsible for training field teams in the use of the cybertracker.
Conservation International (CI) has shown interest in providing additional funding for the use of Cybertracker in MIKE.
The cybertracker software will need to be customized for MIKE and a link between cybertracker and the MIKE database needs to be developed. RB has agreed to look into this and get in touch with the Southern African MIKE programme so that any cybertracker and database developments can be harmonized across the continent.
Savannah sites will be brought on soon into the CA MIKE program and collaboration with the Southern African countries on the methodology would be very fruitful.
5. LEM PROTOCOLS
Law enforcement forms and site reports for Central Africa will be simplified since they were found to be too complicated. During training 3 feedback from the people that have used them in the field will permit further improvement of the forms.
After finalisation, forms and reports will be submitted to the CITES TAG for review.
Law enforcement is one of the key variables determining elephant distribution. Much information on illegal killing is also coming from intelligence reports. Ways of dealing with this kind of information should become clear over time and the question as to how to use this information will be put to the TAG.
ML would strongly support a closer interaction between the Central African and Southern African programme on the use of LEM information, savannah protocols and methodology. He will initiate the first contact over the email.
6 PROPOSED NEXT TELECONFERENCE MEETING
The next teleconference meeting will be held on January 10th at 15:00 Central European time. RR will remind the participants the week before so that an agenda can be drafter in time before the meeting.