Press release: Wednesday 13th May 2015
Malawi reached another milestone in its fight against wildlife crime today with the launch of a technical review on illegal wildlife trade.
The report was produced on behalf of Department of National Parks & Wildlife by GIZ (as part of the German Cooperation Programme), Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, the Born Free Foundation and the International Environmental Law Project, and will be used as a framework for the development of the Government’s Illegal Wildlife Trade Action Plan.
Research, investigations and interviews engaging all key government agencies and NGO’s across the countries were key to the assessment. The ‘Wildlife Crime Toolkit’ produced by the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime was also used, with the aim of assisting the government to identify means and measures to protect wildlife including technical assistance needs.
In addition to the standard analysis, the project team undertook a review of the National Parks and Wildlife Act of Malawi and have presented recommendations for a Parliamentary Review that will ensure that the law is strengthened and more compliant with the CITES Legislation Project.
Minister of Information, Tourism and Culture, Hon Kondwani Nankhumwa, MP, who presided over the launch of the ceremony, said, “Wildlife crime is high on the agenda in Malawi as we are well aware of the impact it is having on our wildlife, which is extremely valuable to us, not just in terms of its contribution to tourism and the economy but also to biodiversity. Thanks to this report we now know the full extent of the challenge and will be able to respond accordingly.”
Recommendations in the report cover legislation, data collection, law enforcement and prosecution. According to Klemens Reha, GIZ, “Wildlife crime is increasingly linked to highly organised criminal networks and its acceleration and magnitude has taken many countries, including Malawi, by surprise. The key actions highlighted in this assessment will help to combat the illegal wildlife trade throughout the chain, and Malawi could very well become a regional role model if swift and decisive action is taken.”
Jonathan Vaughan, co-author of the report and Director of Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, said, “We hope that funding can be secured as soon as possible to move forward with the proposed plans. Malawi is being targeted by both poachers and traffickers, the latter of whom are using the country as a transit route and distribution hub. Thus Malawi represents an important link in illegal global trade networks impacting wildlife across the region. This is not just a matter of conservation but also one of crime and corruption, meaning the cooperation of all agencies, especially the Inter-Agency Committee (IACCWC), has been all the more invaluable and commendable.”
Adam M. Roberts, CEO of the Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA, said: “Wild animals in Malawi – elephants, hippo, turtles and many other species – are significantly affected by poaching and illegal wildlife trade. I hope that the recommendations in this comprehensive and detailed report will enable national decision-makers in country to tackle this trade, benefiting wildlife in Malawi and throughout the region”.
Mr Brighton Kumchedwa, Director of the Department of National Parks & Wildlife, added, “Thanks must go to our partners who have helped us to deliver such a comprehensive assessment, and we look forward to continuing to work together. Combating illegal wildlife trade is complex and will require persistent cooperation and collaboration from all partners and government agencies, which is entirely possible given our experiences on this particular project.”
See the highlights from the ceremony including interviews from participants, here