The discussion that followed this presentation began with a question by Mr Engonga, who wished to know how many kilometres the team covered without a fixed transect. Mr Hart responded that the recce transect could vary in length. They worked over a distance of 5 km (4 km of recce, 1 km of transect).
Mr Etoga requested figures that the participants could present to their Governments (density and carcasses). Mr Hart referred him to his electronic presentation and said that these figures would be available very soon.
Mr Hunter said that it was necessary to have the figures in order to submit them to the various Governments, but that the main objective of the pilot programme was, first and foremost, to develop and test the methodology.
Mr Mouncharou considered it a problem if they talked only about elephants. It was important to develop partnerships so that there could be sites where work would proceed on a broader front. In addition, several pieces of information were relevant as far as elephant management was concerned. Mr Luhunu expressed the view that Government involvement in the pilot phase had facilitated the anti-poaching programme. Mr Hart responded that anti-poaching efforts might come under criticism due to their political and regional implications. Cooperation with national Governments had to be strengthened in that regard.
History and objectives of MIKE (what MIKE can and cannot do)
Mr Hunter and Dr Lindeque presented a detailed history of MIKE, selection of MIKE sites, flow and communication of information, the structure and coordination of the MIKE programme, and all of the information required by MIKE.
The following questions were posed following the presentation:
Mr Mouncharou wanted to know if MIKE’s LEM would take charge of the anti-poaching efforts. Mr Hunter responded that MIKE’s main priority was to support the management of information in a way harmonized with the anti-poaching efforts, but that MIKE did not support the anti-poaching efforts directly. Dr Lindeque commented that MIKE was not designed for that purpose and that it is very unlikely that sufficient funding will be obtained for such work, but it was essential that MIKE should provide information to assist in establishing an anti-poaching strategy. That would probably help convince other partners to support the programmes.
Mr Etoga asked a question about information management. Mr Hunter responded that MIKE’s goal was to find the best technique for gathering information in order to assist Governments in devising better elephant management practices in the future.
Mr Luhunu asked about MIKE’s Sub-regional Steering Group (SSG). He was told that an answer would be provided the next day.
Mr Mamfoumbi suggested that each country should be responsible for site selection. He observed that the selected sites were all in protected areas. Surveys should also be conducted in unprotected zones. Mr Hunter responded that each country should be involved in site selection, and that LEM might have sites different from those used for elephant population monitoring. He referred, in particular, to elephant population counts across national borders.
Mr Mouncharou stated that the basic work should be completed at one site so that it could be applied to the problem of elephant management at other sites. Mr Hunter explained that MIKE operations would be based in the sub-region. The participating countries had to choose the members for the SSG. He stressed the importance of national Governments, while the NGOs also played an important role at the site level.
Mr Hart mentioned that the NGOs should also be included in support to information management activity at the national level, just as they assisted with management at the site level. But that commitment was not very visible yet.
Mr Engonga asked why the delegation from Chad was not present. Mr Hunter responded that it had to do with logistical difficulties, and he confirmed that Chad would participate in the programme.
Mr Ossinga, representative for the NGOs in Gabon, asked how the NGOs would be involved in MIKE. Mr Hunter responded that MIKE would give the national Governments latitude in defining how the NGOs would be involved. Mr Hart mentioned the active role played by the NGOs in MIKE’s pilot phase, and said he hoped that would continue.
Mr Luhunu expressed regret concerning the lack of sites in Equatorial Guinea. This problem would be resolved at the current workshop, because the CITES Secretariat had insisted that each country should have at least one site.
Mr Etoga took the floor to ask about the level of participation of the various partners in data analysis. Mr Hunter said that the systems had to be similar in order to facilitate analysis of the data.
Mr Engonga wanted to know the date on which MIKE might be operational. Mr Hunter said that it would probably be in November 2002. Dr Lindeque said that MIKE was a very ambitious project, so it would require a great deal of funding. The Secretariat had sufficient financial resources to achieve results in the next 18 months, provided that the various players were effective at the sites, using the means available to them.
Mr Engonga pointed out that in his country (Equatorial Guinea), the data were outdated and the site was inaccessible. Dr Lindeque responded that the survey method that was adopted had to be standard and applicable to all the sites. Regardless of the difficulties, they had to be able to reach an estimate of the elephant population for all MIKE sites at least once every two years.
Mr Mamfoumbi returned to the topic of financing the operational phase and asked if the programme had been launched without a financing agreement with the European Union. Wouldn’t it be preferable to wait for such an agreement, in order to avoid difficulties? Mr Hunter responded that it was better to go ahead and start, and look for financing later, otherwise too much time would be lost.
In conclusion, Dr Lindeque said that the CITES Secretariat was counting on the support and commitment of the participants in this project, because they would be the main beneficiaries.
Wednesday 11 July 2001
Ground patrols and reports; intelligence monitoring concerning irregularities, violations, poaching and other incidents
Mr Hunter and Dr Lindeque made a presentation concerning the different types of reports (carcass report; monthly report; annual report; LEM report), ground patrols, estimates of elephant populations in forests, and intelligence monitoring with regard to irregularities, violations, poaching, and other incidents.
The following conclusions were drawn from the discussions that followed these presentations:
- The monthly or quarterly report forms would be harmonized to facilitate their use.
- It was very important to have a harmonized system that would enable precise information to be collected.
- Team training was very important. The same applied to vesting responsibility in the various players at every level.
- As far as information processing was concerned, equipment and software would be standardized in order to reduce problems, and the final report providing a summary of all the information would have to be sent to the hierarchy, including the CITES Secretariat.
- Ultimately, the forms did not vary much in terms of content; however, the experience from Central Africa had to be incorporated. The main objective was to compile, analyse, and transmit the information.
The workshop continued with a clarification of the project’s duration. It would last 10 years, but the first phase would last 18 months. That phase had already been financed. As far as elephant population estimates were concerned, methods had to be standardized. This point would be discussed at subsequent meetings. Basic training was necessary to guarantee the standardized approach and to improve survey techniques.
Selection of MIKE sites and status of elephant populations in each country
Two criteria had to be considered in this regard: size of site area, and priority sites.
Thursday 12 July 2001
Sub-regional structure and coordination of the MIKE programme
The meeting opened with the reading of the agenda by Mr Hunter. The first item was the SSG. He asked for input from the participants concerning this point. Mr Mamfoumbi (Gabon) thought that the structure of the MIKE pilot programme should be maintained. Mr Luhunu (DRC) said that it should be changed by adding a position of Chairman of the SSG for Central Africa.
Mr Mamfoumbi took the floor again to say that the SSG was presided over by the Wildlife Director. Mr Luhunu replied that the position should be rotational. That would mean that Gabon, the host country, would preside over the Group for the coming phase (18 months). After that, the position would move to the country that hosted the evaluation workshop. Mr Etoga (Cameroon) thought that the SSG should invite the national officers to participate in its meetings. Mr Hunter responded that that was up to the countries of the sub-region. He then congratulated the representative of Gabon on his election to the position of Chairman of the SSG.
Mr Hart then suggested that the Director-designate draw up a detailed programme of the next phase and distribute it. Mr Luhunu returned to Mr Etoga’s suggestion, saying that a country could not be represented at two different levels, which meant that it would be better to keep things as they were. Mr Hart responded to this point by saying that meetings could be arranged as they were needed.
The Director-designate then specified that the role of the SSG was to address problems and to meet every 6 months to present reports. He announced the creation of a post of Sub-regional Support Officer (SSO) and suggested that the office for this position be located in Cameroon, owing to its geographical location and the logistics already in place, because this officer needed to be mobile and easy to contact. Yaounde was chosen for the office because there were a number of other conservation-related organizations located there.
Mr Mamfoumbi asked for clarification because he did not understand why Libreville had not been chosen, since it was the seat of the Presidency of the SSG. Mr Hunter explained that the SSO would be independent but would work in very close liaison with the SSG Chairman. Yaounde was close to the various partners. The location of the position could not be constantly changing, as that would entail logistical problems. The terms of reference would be given to all the national authorities and the final decision would be made by the CITES Secretariat.
Determination of needs and constraints for implementing MIKE
Mr Mamfoumbi asked for clarification concerning the features of the position before making any suggestions. The Director-designate repeated that the SSO would be a permanent, independent position. The specific features would be posted later, but the position should be filled as soon as possible.
Mr Mamfoumbi asked who would be responsible for the agents involved in the project who were not Government employees. The Director-designate responded that in principle MIKE did not offer wages, but that perhaps in the next phase, with the funding that was expected, the point could be reconsidered.
Mr Luhunu asked about bonuses to be provided by MIKE. The Director-designate responded that CITES did not want to get involved in national salaries because it did not want to create disagreements among Government employees. Mr Mamfoumbi thought that some motivation should be provided for this additional work. The Director-designate clarified that the goal of the project was to build capacity at the local and national levels, not to augment state employees’ salaries. The goal was to assist States in taking over the programme themselves. Mr Mouncharou said that the principle of motivation should be adopted, even if there was no money in the immediate future that MIKE could actually supply.
The Director-designate stated that MIKE could assist with financing for the following items:
- Equipment for patrols
- LEM materials
- Forms and equipment for collecting data
- Technical survey support
- Surveys (aerial and ground) every two years
- Promotion of partnerships between the Government and the NGOs (capacity building)
Dr Lindeque pointed out that MIKE would also:
- Train people, who would then have skills that they did not have before.
Mr Mouncharou insisted that some motivation was necessary, and that the principle had to be established from the start. The Director-designate responded that negotiation was possible. He said he would seek funding in that regard.
He then announced the following steps as final decisions (see paragraph 2.).
Mr Mouncharou asked how the ivory would be marked. Dr Lindeque responded that the marking of ivory is outlined in a CITES Resolution. Training will be provided in this respect.
Mr Luhunu wanted to know who was in charge of budget allocations per country. The Director-designate responded that the budget was allocated in accordance with the number of MIKE sites per country. For additional funds, they would seek other partners.
Mr Mamfoumbi asked about the status of surveys in the allocations (would they be launched during the next phase?). The Director-designate said that that was a good question and that the CITES Secretariat would give consideration to training teams. He then expressed his personal commitment to the project and said that he really wanted it to go into operation. He would work hard to find financing to that end. He urged the participants to express their needs because that would help him in his discussions with donors.
The meeting was adjourned by a representative of the Minister.
2. PRINCIPAL DECISIONS FOR IMPLEMENTING THE NEXT PHASE OF MIKE IN CENTRAL AFRICA
The following summarizes the principal decisions concerning the MIKE programme in Central Africa:
a. The pilot project
The benefits of the pilot programme have been:
- To help adapt the surveys and LEM to forest ecosystems;
- To provide an evaluation of an array of options to acquire information on LEM and elephant populations;
- To shape the management structure required for full implementation;
- To identify the need to re-enforce capacity for the transmission of information;
- To highlight the value of the African Elephant Database, and the need for its updating.
b. Objectives of MIKE
The Director-designate clarified that one of the main objectives of the implementation of the full MIKE programme is to develop the capacity and capability to monitor and manage elephant populations throughout Africa and Asia.
c. Institutional arrangements
- The Central African sub-Region agreed that the management structure of MIKE in Central Africa should consist of:
- A Sub-regional Steering Group (SSG)
- National Officers
- Site Officers and site teams
- The SSG will consist of and be represented by the Wildlife Directors of the participating States.
- The Wildlife Director of Gabon was elected Chairman of the SSG, effective immediately, and will hold the post for 18 months. Thereafter the post will be rotational.
- The SSG is scheduled to meet every six months to review progress and approve implementation.
- The SSG members are authorized to invite their national officers to attend if desired.
- A Sub-regional Support Officer (SSO) will be located at Yaounde. This post is not rotational. Yaounde provides an ideal base from which to move around the region and the best opportunities for liaison with the IUCN regional office.
- The SSO reports to the MIKE Director. The principal Terms of Reference are to facilitate the work of the SSG, the national officers and the site officers and teams.
- Draft Terms of Reference for the SSO have been prepared and will be circulated to the SSG members.
- A shortlist of candidates for the position of SSO will be prepared and presented to the SSG members. The MIKE Director will make the final selection in liaison with the Chairman of the SSG (Gabon).
- It was clarified that the EU resources available to MIKE would support:
- Training required for LEM and information management;
- Equipment to facilitate LEM;
- Information Management;
- Population surveys (inventories) in savannah and forest systems.
- In terms of supporting MIKE personnel, it was clarified that Government officers will not be assisted with salary or bonuses under the EU funding. Supplementary staff for the monitoring programme could be provided through partnership arrangements. In the rare circumstance that the desired individual is not covered by either the civil service, or through partnership arrangements, then support for such individuals could be considered on a case-by-case basis. Such support would only be provided on the basis that there is a mechanism in place to include them in an established recurrently funded budget arrangement at the end of the agreed period.
- The rationale behind this clarification is that the MIKE programme’s main objective is to integrate the monitoring functions into the administration operations. This principle is in response to the Wildlife Department’s request to develop the capacity to use information for a monitoring programme to improve management of wildlife resources, as expressed at CoP10 and 11.
- The MIKE Director-designate clarified that the distribution of funds for the implementation of MIKE will be based on the selection of 13 sites in the sub-region. Support from other donors and partners will have to be obtained to fund additional sites.
e. Sites and field programmes
- The MIKE Director-designate clarified that MIKE objectives include both LEM and elephant population estimates.
- Survey designs and site selection for these two objectives need not have the same design.
- Each range State was asked to provide a list of operational sites. It was agreed that these sites would be prioritized given that work could not be initiated in all at the same time within the 18-month EU funding period. However the value of the expanded list is that it provides target sites for possible further funding and for developing partnerships, while increasing the capacity of MIKE implementation in those sites.
- It was recognized that the list of sites presented at the meeting represents the national priorities. Their inclusion can be incorporated into a regional and continental design.
- It was accepted that the survey design could be developed so as not to compromise the statistical issues regarding a representative sample on a continental scale.
- It was very valuable to consider the savannah and forest data protocols side by side.
- It was agreed that much of the information identified in the draft forest and savannah protocols covers many of the same issues. Therefore there was agreement that the protocols should be harmonized as much as possible. This will make training and information management easier.
- It was agreed that the MIKE Director would oversee and be responsible for the harmonization of the field forms in consultation with the TAG.
- In doing this harmonization it was recognized that the specific conditions and particularities that characterize elephants and illegal elephant killing in each sub-region should not be lost. Furthermore it was agreed that harmonization should be guided by the East African agreement that the causes of illegal killing and the factors associated with this should be determined as much as possible.
- The objective is to determine why elephants are being illegally killed. In this regard, information presented on the forms that is stated to be an opinion should be clearly indicated as such, and not be used or seen as factual.