New EU support to reduce illegal killing of elephants and other endangered species in developing countries

by Dec 4, 2013Elephants, Ivory

Today, the European Union has decided to support a programme that will improve the protection of elephants, great apes and rhinos in Africa as well as other species such as marine turtles in the Caribbean and the Pacific. It will strengthen the monitoring of animal populations and poaching, help to improve law enforcement in the fight against illegal killings through training and operational support and establish an emergency response system for sudden increases in illegal killing and trade.

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.”

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.”

The new project “Minimising the Illegal Killing of Elephants and other Endangered Species (MIKES)” builds on an existing similar project which has existed since 2001: It has successfully documented alarming increases of elephant poaching and highlighted the need to act against escalating international illegal trade in elephant ivory. According to the project’s data, in 2012 around 22,000 elephants were illegally killed across the African continent. This figure exceeds the numbers by which elephant populations grow, suggesting that their overall number is declining. Illegal ivory trade is also on the rise: 2011 also saw the seizing of a record 35 tons of ivory.

African, Caribbean and Pacific countries boast high levels of biodiversity and some of the rarest species of life on the planet, such as rhinos, great apes and marine turtles. 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.

“Minimising the Illegal Killing of Elephants and other Endangered Species (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.

Today’s announcement comes during the African Elephant Summit (2-4 December), which is held in Gaborone, Botswana. The event aims to work towards urgent measures to address the upsurge in poaching of the African elephant and in illegal ivory trade.

For further information

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Contacts :
Alexandre Polack (+32 2 299 06 77)
Maria Sanchez Aponte (+32 2 298 10 35)