By Kevin Heath
There is sure to be confusion at some point in the future over the name with 2 MIKE(S) on the block but the news that the European Commission has set aside 12.3 million euros to combat the illegal wildlife trade over the next 4 years has to be welcomed. MIKES (not to be confused with MIKE) aims to help provide African states with resources to combat poaching and smuggling of elephants and other endangered species such as great apes.
The new EU projects is called “Minimising the Illegal Killing of Elephants and other Endangered Species (MIKES)” and should not be confused with the CITES programme “Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE)”.
MIKES is financed from the 10th European Development Fund with €12.3 million and will run in the period 2014-2018. It will be implemented by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in collaboration with 31 African elephant range States as well as in selected protected area sites in the Caribbean and Pacific regions.
The new “MIKES” project will improve the system of monitoring biodiversity and threats to it and extend coverage from elephants to other rare species. In order to fight illegal killing, it will, among other things, provide law enforcement training, technical support for setting up patrol systems, and concrete operational support where required. An emergency response mechanism will be created to allow MIKES to respond to sudden increases in the illegal killing and/or international trade in elephants and other species.
European Commissioner for Environment Janez Potocnik said: “This new programme shows that the EU, in partnership with ACP countries, is ready to strengthen its efforts to combat wildlife trafficking and reduce its devastating impacts on biodiversity. I particularly welcome the focus on better enforcement of CITES rules, which will help countries reinforce their capacity in that area. However, given the recent dramatic increase in demand for illicit wildlife products and the fact that wildlife crime has also become a serious threat to security, political stability, natural resources and the rule of law, the EU needs to consider whether its current approach is sufficient in tackling the many different facets of this issue.”
European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs commented: “Illegal killing of endangered species is currently one of the major threats to wildlife in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. It involves heavily armed and organized criminal networks, which contribute to insecurity and therefore hamper development. This calls for a coherent approach with a view to tackling the threats both to biodiversity and security in these three regions.”