MULTI-AGENCY TASK FORCE TO REDUCE WILDLIFE CRIME

Reproduced from the Daily Times (Malawi), Friday April 4 2013, article below

By Charles Mkoka

A multi-agency task force comprising enforcement insitutision has been set up to crackdown cases of wildlife crime in a bid to save endangered and rare species of fauna.

The taskforce comes barely weeks after the Department of National Parks & wildlife and Lilongwe Wildlife Trust launched a six month ‘Stop Wildlife Crime’ campaign.

Principal Secretary for Tourism and Culture Elsie Tembo who presided over the meeting said her ministry invited representatives of Malawi enforcement agencies to discuss the serious issues of wildlife crimes.

Tembo told the participants in Lilongwe that wildlife crime had exploded across Africa, driven by increasing demand in Chain and South East Asiea of products made from ivory and rhino horn.  In some species, over exploitation through poaching now poses the greatest risk of species extinction.

“Highly organised, armed international criminals have no raised wildlife crime to the level of ‘serious crime’ and their actions threaten not only endangered species but the rul of law and the revenue of many African countries that rely on tourism.”

“The situation is exacerbated by the fact that Malawi is being targeted and exploited as a source and transit route for illicit wildlife trade.  Evidence to that effect shows that between 2011 and 2014, a total of 23 arrests were made at Kamuzu International Airport alone with 69 pieces of ivory confiscated.  In May 2013 the Malawi Revenue Authority intercepted 781 pieces of ivory weighing 2.6 tonnes that originated from Tanzania”.  said Tembo.

On his part, Deputy Director of Parks and Wildlife Chiza Manda asid this global, multi-faceted crime is becoming increasingly profitable, attracting sophisticated criminal networks.  It therefore requires a multi-agency response at national, regional and international level.

“It is high time for national agencies to unit and share intelligence and curb this malpractice.  This will ensure better communication and co-operation at all levels for a more effective response.  This is in line with the provisions of the UN Converntion on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) a treaty that ban illicit trade in ivory globally.” observed Manda.

Meanwhile a toll free number has been provided as part of enhancing communication with the public and offering tips in cases of ivory trafficking and other related wildlife crimes.  The numbers are 0175 9833 and 0 88 44 88 999.

The meeting was also hosted by Lilongwe Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  It was attended by high level representatives from the Anti-corruption Burea, the Malawi Defence Force, the Judiciary, Police, Malawi Revenue Authority, and Ministry of Tourism, among others.

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