Published on allafrica.com on 28th March 2015
Written by Linda Likomwa
Kate Moore, Programmes Manager Lilongwe Wildlife Trust said since last year’s launch of the Malawi’s ‘Stop Wildlife Crime. Protect Malawi’s Wildlife’ campaign, there have been many notable improvements to the way government has dealt with wildlife crimes, but there is still a long way to go to ensure the survival of Malawi’s elephants.
“Time is running out to save the elephants and in order to put a stop to the decline attitudes towards the wildlife there is a need to change rapidly. The latest figures indicate that poaching has increased dramatically over the years, despite the cites ban on the international commercial trade in ivory that was implemented 16 years ago,” said Moore.
She added that demand in ivory products is still on the rise in Asian countries such as China and Vietnam which led to 36,000 elephants being butchered for their tusks across Africa in 2013 alone.
Moore further said if poaching continues at this rate, elephants are set to be extinct in the world by 2025, potentially even sooner for Malawi where the population falls below 2000.
She then said the Northern White Rhino is staring extinction in the face. Three of the remaining five all reside in OlPejeta Conservancy in Kenya, transferred there in 2009 to provide them with optimum breeding conditions in the hope that numbers could increase.
However, Moore said despite the best efforts of everyone involved, due to age and fertility issues breeding are sadly no longer an option, so the door looks to be closing on the last lifeline of this magnificent sub species and said Malawi would be talking the same vain with the elephants.
Jonathan Vaughan, Director of Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, said “As next week’s World Wildlife Day’s commemorations will show, Malawi is truly committed to combating wildlife crime.
Vaughan said, “This year we’ve seen a collaborative and productive approach between the government and Non Governmental Organization (NGO) community which we hope will continue.
“Work with our border countries should also bear fruit in the near future and we must continue to galvanise the support of the global community if we are to stand a chance. Can we save Malawi’s elephants? Ask me this time next year as right now I feel it could go either way.”
Brighton Kumchedwa, Director of Parks & Wildlife, added “Whilst we have achieved some tremendous results in the last year, wildlife conservation is heading towards a crisis that requires teamwork, grit and determination. The fight has only just begun.”
Malawi’s ‘Stop Wildlife Crime. Protect Malawi’s Wildlife’ campaign, a partnership between Lilongwe Wildlife Trust and the government, aims to raise awareness of the value of elephants to local tourism and put wildlife issues onto government agendas.