Malawi’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife has appealed to people in the country to resist any temptation of getting involved in illegal wildlife trafficking.
In a statement from in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, the Director of National Parks and Wildlife Brighton Kumchedwa says people have a role to play to stop wildlife crime in the southern African country. fighting
The department’s plea comes fast on the heels reports of continued confiscations of ivory and rhino horn in other countries said to originate from Malawi and describes the development as worrisome.
The parks and wildlife the department recently received reports of seizures of both ivory and rhino horn in Thailand, China and Vietnam airports, that happened between January and March this year, originating from Malawi.
Reports indicates that customs officials at Shanghai Pudong Airport in China seized two checked in baggage containing about 39 kilograms of rhino; a consignment of 422 pieces of Ivory weighing 330 kilograms was seized at Suvarnabhumi in Thailand while about 119 kilograms of rhino horn stacked in two bags were seized at Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi, Vietnam. Sadly, the contraband carried by various reputable airlines originated from Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in Malawi.
“The general public is hereby informed that all the contraband in the three cases is not from Malawi but probably from other countries,” Parks and Wildlife Director says.
He adds: “In this particular case Malawi was simply being used as a conduit for the contraband and the trend is worrisome as it continues to dent the good image of Malawi internationally.”
It is against this background that the department of wildlife and national parks urges Malawians to take a leading role in fighting wildlife criminals so as to save the image of the country.
At one time last year, Malawi confiscated and publicly burnt over 780 pieces of ivory whose DNA tests showed were from elephants killed in neighbouring Tanzania and Mozambique but the traders wanted to Malawi as a passage.
The burning of the elephant tasks in full view of local and international media was meant to send a clear signal that Malawi would not allow to be used a conduit for illegal wildlife trade.
Meanwhile, Kumchedwa says the department of national parks and wildlife is seriously engaging all security institutions at KIA to get to the bottom of the matter as investigations are at an advanced stage.
The department is also making every effort to fight illegal wildlife trade and will continue doing so on top of the scaled up efforts which include counteracting illegal trafficking through establishment and operationalization of an anti-trafficking unit within the department.
Recently, Malawi parliament enacted a law which imposes stiffer penalties for wildlife crimes and the country’s President Peter Mutharika has championed the cause with public pronouncements against illegal wildlife trade.