Monitoring systems for poaching and illegal trade vital for CITES ivory decisions

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not an official document.


Monitoring systems for poaching and illegal trade
vital for CITES ivory decisions

Santiago de Chile, 7 November 2002 – The 160 member governments of CITES must decide next week whether or not to permit the resumption of a highly regulated ivory trade from the African elephant populations of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Much of the debate hinges on whether or not the sale of ivory from legal government stocks in one part of the continent leads to increased poaching in other parts. Recognizing the need for reliable data on poaching and smuggling, CITES decided to establish two long-term monitoring systems. These two systems are likely to figure in an important way in next week´s decisions.

The site-based system for Monitoring Illegal Killing of Elephants, or MIKE, seeks to measure and identify trends in elephant poaching in both Africa and Asia. It also aims to assess the factors driving elephant killings and to determine whether such killings are linked to CITES decisions. Once it is fully operational, MIKE will conduct standardized population surveys at least once every two years at 45 sites in Africa and 15 in Asia. It is also designed to track the degree of law enforcement effort at these sites. MIKE is administered by the CITES Secretariat.

In 1997, the Parties mandated a monitoring system to track illegal trade in elephant products. This led to the development of the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS), which is operated under the auspices of TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network. The first analytical report from ETIS is before this CoP.

ETIS represents a new and innovative methodology for understanding illegal trade dynamics. Based on global law enforcement data on elephant product seizures, and supported by a broad information base of subsidiary databases tracking law enforcement efforts, corruption indices, domestic ivory markets, background economic variables and other factors, ETIS is a knowledge-based system that allows illicit trade to be assessed with respect to trade routes, characteristic of trade and trends over time.

The results of the ETIS analysis for this Conference of the Parties provide the most robust and meaningful look at illegal elephant ivory trade dynamics in over a decade. ETIS represents a very powerful tool for decision-making and forms an objective basis for assessing the impacts of CITES decisions on global patterns of illicit trade in ivory.

“ETIS is pushing back the frontiers of knowledge in terms of monitoring illegal trade dynamics for one of the world´s flagship species”, said Tom Milliken, Director of TRAFFIC East/Southern Africa and the principal author of the ETIS reports to CoP12. “We hope that the objective information in the ETIS reports will form a vital component of future decisions to support elephant conservation.”

Note to journalists:

Nigel Hunter, director of the MIKE programme; Tom Milliken,, Director of Traffic for East/South Africa; and Jim Armstrong, Deputy Secretary General of CITES will brief the press on African Elephant and MIKE/ETIS programmes on Thursday, 7 November, in Room 8, Diego Portales.

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