By Satyen Sinha
This week, the EU has promised €12.3 million to be spent on MIKES - “Minimising the Illegal Killing of Elephants and other Endangered Species”.
MIKES is a programme that will protect the worlds most endangered species, covering the 31 African elephant range States as well as selected protected area sites in the Caribbean and Pacific regions.
The move was announced yesterday by the EU at the IUCN African Elephant Summit being held in Botswana, where IFAW’s own Jason Bell is leading our efforts to ensure elephants get the protection they deserve.
In order to fight illegal killing of species such as elephants, MIKES 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 also be created to allow MIKES to respond to sudden increases in the illegal killing and/or international trade in elephants and other species.
This is all music to my ears.
IFAW has been engaged in these activities for many years, and we welcome the opportunity to work with MIKES to protect the world’s endangered species. Like MIKES, IFAW is playing its part by training the rangers and enforcers, and providing them with the vital equipment they need to keep pace with the poachers.
To date, IFAW has trained over 1600 wildlife law enforcement officials in over 50 countries in Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Asia. IFAW is also working to reduce demand by educating buyers about the source of wildlife products.
Yet I can’t stop thinking that this is just a drop in the ocean compared to what the EU can actually do. The scale of the problem we are facing means we need a full EU Action Plan, like we have for drugs and terrorism, with a fully funded trust fund to support the countries that are charged with protecting our natural capital. MIKES is definitely a good start, but on its own it will not end the slaughter.
As another great Mike (Michelangelo) once said “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark."