Empowering data-driven elephant conservation: CITES MIKE Programme trains over 100 rangers at Southern African Wildlife College

Jun 10, 2024 | News

By the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

Rangers from across the Southern African region have now established a new community of practice for monitoring and reporting on elephant mortality. Accurate and consistent data on elephant deaths is crucial for understanding and effectively addressing the threats faced by nature’s gardeners, which include human-elephant conflict, habitat loss and the illegal killing for ivory. Reliable data allows for informed decision-making and effective conservation measures to ensure the long-term survival of African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in their natural habitats.

In April 2024, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) Programme, in partnership with the Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC), successfully delivered a training session for 39 rangers at the SAWC campus, located in Greater Kruger National Park, Hoedspruit, South Africa.  

CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero said: “This partnership highlights the importance of regional cooperation and shared knowledge in tackling the challenges faced by conservationists. Beyond imparting knowledge and skills, the CITES MIKE Programme builds capacity for accurate data collection, thus providing evidence-based strategies for the conservation of elephants and increasing their resilience against the various threats to biodiversity.”  

Participants were trained on the MIKE Programme’s framework, data collection techniques, and documentation processes, ensuring consistency and accuracy in monitoring efforts across different sites. The Training of Trainers (ToT) approach aimed to further empower these officials to share their knowledge and train more personnel within their home countries, amplifying the impact of the training programme across borders.

This training marks the conclusion of a three-year partner project between the CITES MIKE Programme and SAWC with the goal of fostering collaboration and enhancing data-driven conservation efforts in the Southern African region’s elephant range States. Since 2022, the CITES MIKE Programme has trained in total more than 100 wildlife conservation officials from across the region. Participating countries include Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe which have been successful in their conservation of elephants and together are home to the largest and heathiest populations of African elephants.

With the support of generous funding provided by the European Union, this initiative forms part of the MIKES+ project which builds on successful previous CITES MIKE projects implemented in African elephant range States. MIKES+ supports activities to strengthen the capacity of wildlife law enforcement agencies at the national level and in focal sites to reduce the impacts of poaching and illegal wildlife trade.


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