Elephants In The Dust

The last seven years have seen a clear increase in the level of elephant poaching across all African sub-regions. The year 2011, and probably also 2012 saw an all-time high in poach- ing since systematic monitoring began more than a decade ago. It is estimated that in 2011, approximately 7.4 per cent of the total elephant populations in elephant sites across Africa were killed illegally. These sites represent 40 per cent of the total African elephant popula- tion, which means that 17,000 elephants were killed in these sites alone. ILLEGAL KILLING OF AFRICAN ELEPHANTS – TRENDS AND DRIVERS

TRENDS INPOACHING The data compiled by the CITES – MIKE Programme (see box for more information) is used to measure trends in levels of illegal killing of elephants and is currently the best quantita- tive data available on the illegal killing of elephants in Africa. The MIKE Programme bases its analyses on data collected by conservation area rangers on the ground in 60 sites spread across 31 African elephant range States in all four sub-regions. The rangers collect detailed data on all elephant carcasses they come across, including the cause of death, age and sex of the animal, and the location and state of the carcass. The informa- tion reported to MIKE is used to calculate the Proportion of Il- legally Killed Elephants (PIKE) from that site, which is defined as the total number of illegally killed elephants found divided by the total number of carcasses encountered per year for each site. The PIKE value ranges from 0.0 (all carcasses identified as natural deaths) to 1.0 (all carcasses identified as illegally killed). A PIKE value of 0.5, for example, would mean that half the car- casses encountered on patrol were identified as illegally killed. Although the projected trends based on these estimates are only representative of poaching in MIKE sites, the total num- ber of elephants currently estimated to occur at these sites is more than 230,000, which represents 40 per cent of the total

The Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) Pro- gramme, which was established in 1997 following the CITES COP 10 in Harare, Zimbabwe, is tasked with collecting and disseminating information on trends in elephant poach- ing across African and Asian range states. The objective of MIKE is to establish a standardized monitoring system and to measure trends in the illegal killing of the African and Asian elephants. The information collected is used to inform decision-making regarding elephants. MIKE data comes from the information received from ground patrols in designated MIKE sites, which include pro- tected areas and other elephant range areas. When the rang- ers come across an elephant carcass, they identify the cause of death as either natural or killed by humans by looking for bullet holes and missing tusks. They also take note of the site’s GPS coordinates and fill in standardized carcass forms that are then submitted to the MIKE Programme. Although there is room for improvements in the quantity and quality of data submitted toMIKE, rangers have so far collected data on more than 9,000 carcasses and reported to MIKE, providing a substantial statistical input for further analysis. The Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants Programme


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