MIKE (Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants)

 

MIKE Pilot Project, Central Africa

 

MINUTES OF THE TELECONFERENCE
13 OCTOBER 2000

PARTICIPANTS:

Jim Armstrong (CITES Secretariat) = JA, Richard Ruggiero (USFWS) = RR, John Hart (WCS) = JH, Rene Beyers (WCS) = RB

TOPICS DISCUSSED:

1. Agenda
2. Reporting forms - cybertracker - data reporting
3. Data analysis - survey design
4. Reporting to CITES, procedures
5. Update on global MIKE, Technical Advisory Group, funding

1. AGENDA

For the following teleconference meetings an agenda will be drafted, circulated and agreed upon well before the call.

2. REPORTING FORMS

JH and RB are proposing to use the forms and protocols that have been developed for CITES as standard reporting forms to which site-specific data collecting forms will be adapted.

Staff in the field are using different ways and materials for recording data, for example waterproof notebooks, cybertracker, etc. Some sites have existing monitoring programmes with already established field forms. In many cases these forms can be modified to serve MIKE needs. The official MIKE forms will then be used as templates to be adapted to site-specific conditions and will ensure integrity of MIKE data needs.

There is also a variety of patrol forms available at different sites which accommodate for different patrol types that are not represented on the existing MIKE forms (e.g. barrier check points, mobile units, recce patrols).

It would be very difficult to impose MIKE forms on these existing systems, but MIKE forms represent the data that will be extracted from these site-specific forms.

CYBERTRACKER:
JA met with Conservation International (CI) and Louis Liebenberg at the IUCN General Assembly last month. CI is keen to fund parts of MIKE and support cybertracker software development. CITES is independently developing the cybertracker tool for MIKE in Southern Africa.

The Secretariat is proposing to contract the cybertracker developers to develop the software globally for MIKE (for both forestry and savannah). It would be desirable though to have a full-time 'trouble-shooter" who would also install the system at each site. It is proposed to have a small meeting some time next year that would focus on the cybertracker as a data collection tool for MIKE.

The cybertracker is currently being used by MIKE Central Africa (CA) in Odzala and the software has been adapted by RB for the MIKE recce-transects.

Some preliminary observations:

  • in Odzala cybertracker is being used for recce-transects along with paper backup. Putting out field teams is very expensive and it is felt that paper backup copies are still necessary in case of technical failure of the cybertracker. If all goes well, data entry back at the base will still be much faster with the cybertracker than transcribing it manually.
  • currently the cybertracker may not be suitable for use at some sites where capacity to deal with this kind of technology is low (e.g. Garamba)
  • the greatest use for the cybertracker will be for ground surveys, although its use for aerial surveys could also be explored.

RB will make a first evaluation of the cybertracker for MIKE ground surveys in Odzala at the workshop there from 25th-30th of November. He will provide a report on this to CITES and USFWS afterwards. This report may be followed by a short seminar.

DATA REPORTING:
The question was raised whether to use a spreadsheet or a database (e.g. MS Access) to report data to the Secretariat. Database data entry has several advantages over spreadsheet entry (more user-friendly, easier to train, header information has to be entered only once, validation of data entry is possible.).

It would be useful to know what the database strategy for the central MIKE unit would be so that a Central African database could be easily integrated. JA explained that the database structure and relationship are explained in the IUCN module prepared by statistical consultants from Reading University. RB will draft a structure for a customized database for Central Africa, test it with real data and send a copy to the CITES Secretariat.

The staff working for MIKE at the moment in Central Africa will be trained in using the database to the extent possible. However JH noted that the computer literacy among these people is very variable and is very low to non-existent in some cases, so probably not everyone will be proficient in using the database after the training.

3. SURVEY DESIGN AND ANALYSIS

MIKE is taking multiple approaches to the survey design issue. Recce-transects were placed systematically in the pilot sites and data will be analysed early next year in collaboration with the St Andrews statistical group (under supervision of Prof. Steve Buckland). Since this design is expensive MIKE CA will also compare it to other less expensive but biased methods (pure recces etc. as conducted by Ecofac and others) and look if the MIKE design can be used to calibrate the latter. No conclusions on this can be drawn however before the end of the analysis.

Placement of ground surveys across the region will also be addressed at a later stage.

JA explained that any suggested modifications to the MIKE modules, derived from the experiences with the Central Africa Pilot should be submitted to the Secretariat for consideration and independent evaluation by the global MIKE TAG. Any new methodologies developed in Central Africa should also be of interest to other regions notably West Africa and southeast Asia.

4. REPORTING PROCEDURE

The first and second trimester report from MIKE CA to CITES and USFWS will be put on the web soon.

The procedure for all subsequent reports is that these will be provided to and approved by USFWS and CITES before wider circulation.

JA also requested the CA MIKE that any documents/reports translated into French should be provided to the Secretariat for posting on the web.

5. UPDATE ON OTHER REGIONS AND GLOBAL MIKE (JA)

The southern African States have honoured their commitment to use the ivory auction money to establish MIKE in southern Africa. At their recent workshop in South Africa, they funded the attendance of delegates from other countries in the sub-region, namely Mozambique and Zambia.

The global TAG membership has been appointed by the MIKE Sub-Group, and TAG members will be contacted shortly to provide assessments of the MIKE protocols. Their first task will be to evaluate savannah forms and protocols and critique these in light of the comments received from the southern African sub-region.

There will be a follow-up meeting of the TAG early next year. WWF-US has indicated that they are interested in supporting the work of the TAG.

FUNDING
The EU has agreed in principle to provide funding for MIKE under the budget-line. The foreseen amount was raised from 2 million to 2.4 million Euro. This funding will be for 18 months and should allow CITES to have MIKE operational in Africa by the beginning of next year. Results from the African program will be available to the next COP. The EU will give confirmation of this funding in the week of the 30th of October. The Secretariat is currently pursuing the co-partner funding required under the EU's funding program (namely, 1 million Euros).

The Secretariat will not pursue immediately the potential funding under the EU's European Development Fund (EDF) funding programmme, since there are numerous structural and political difficulties with this funding mechanism. If the interim funding application is approved by the EU, the Secretariat will meet with the EU next March to address the various EDF issues. If these can be resolved, it is hoped that a long-term funding proposal for MIKE can be developed and approved next year, in time to report to COP12.

The Belgian government announced their commitment to support MIKE financially during the last COP in Nairobi. The Secretariat is currently discussing the quantum involved and the area where Belgium would like to see the funds used.

There is also a strong interest from Conservation International to fund MIKE especially in West Africa where it would be linked to Global Environment Fund/World Bank (GEF/WB) funding.

JA emphasised the fact that under the EU funding, MIKE requires 'in kind' commitment from the national governments, before grant funds can be expended.

It was agreed that it is very important for Central African States to have these inputs in place in preparation for the next phase. The Central African WWF meeting on elephant strategies to be held later this year or early next year will provide an opportunity to get all 7 Central African countries better connected to MIKE and CITES and bring them into the global discussion.

Close and direct involvement of the elephant officers and steering committee in the developments of MIKE in the coming months is crucial.

MIKE CA will be holding a steering committee meeting early November and JH asked if the minutes of this teleconference call could be circulated among its members. JA stated that the Secretariat encouraged full and transparent communication with all Government and NGO partners in MIKE. He cautioned, however, against raising hopes and expectations for MIKE until the EU money is secure.

The Secretariat explained that for MIKE to function globally, and for results to be useful at the Asia-Africa level, it is essential that MIKE develops as a single coherent program as opposed to funds being fragmented into different local or national programmes.

6. NEXT TELECONFERENCE MEETING

It was proposed that the next teleconference will be held on 17 November 2000 at 14h00 GMT.