For use of the media
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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