Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has today received five sets of the Global Positioning System (GPS) complete with accessories from a program under the auspices of the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) that is responsible for Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE).
The equipment will boost implementation of the monitoring and research activities in the UWA’s national parks. The equipment will also be useful during aerial surveys. With the GPS equipment, UWA will be able to strengthen monitoring elephant populations and other wildlife species because elephants are keystone species.
The MIKE Sub regional Support Officer, Edison Nuwamanya explained that because elephants are keystone species, their management and conservation guarantees the survival and wellbeing of other species that share the range with them.
The MIKE program was started with the objective of providing relevant information necessary for elephant range states to make management and enforcement decisions as well as building institutional capacity. The program is implemented in Africa and Asia with the Eastern Africa sub region operational in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Eritrea and Rwanda. The information gathered through the MIKE Process is supposed to facilitate effective decision making for the long term management of elephant populations in the region.
Currently, the East African Sub-regional support office for the MIKE program is based at the UWA Headquarters in Kampala emphasizing the increased institutional collaboration between the national wildlife agencies and the CITES-MIKE program.
Through the MIKE program, UWA has been able to develop strong working relations with the neighboring countries, and UWA’s Management Information System (MIST) is now being adopted by other elephant range states in Eastern Africa such as Kenya, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. MIST is also already being used in Cambodia and Ghana.
Elephants are a huge attraction for both domestic and international tourists, but their populations have over the years been threatened by the high global demand for ivory and illegal trading activities in this product.
The CITES Convention regulates trade in elephant products and ensures that trade, if any, does not threaten elephant survival.
Since its inception, the CITES-MIKE program has helped increase knowledge of elephant numbers and habitats mostly through routine aerial surveys, institutional capacity building programs through training of rangers and wardens, and increased cross-border collaboration.