A joint press release from Department of National Parks & Wildlife and Lilongwe Wildlife Trust: 19th September 2015.
The planned destruction of 2.6 tonnes of ivory was blocked yesterday by Tanzanian authorities who argued the tusks were needed as evidence for prosecution of suspected poachers.
The ivory in question had been seized by Malawi Revenue Authority in 2013 from two wildlife traffickers, Patrick and Chauncy Kaunda, and the High Court of Mzuzu had ordered its destruction as part of the sentencing on 28th July this year.
Malawi must now fight to ensure that the destruction of the ivory goes ahead after the 90 days granted by the stay order, and that the ivory is not extradited to Tanzania.
“Today’s turn of events is a big disappointment to us,” said Brighton Kumchedwa, Director of National Parks & Wildlife, standing outside the High Court. “We, as Government, were ready to show the world our genuine commitment to fight wildlife crime. Malawi is being exploited as a conduit by wildlife traffickers as can be seen from this very case. Our plan was to send out a message to people – that if they think you can target our nation to traffic illicit goods then they can think again, because we shall turn it to ashes.”
Jonathan Vaughan, Director of Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, added, “Putting ivory stockpiles out of economic use is one of a number of steps that the Government of Malawi has committed to in its fight against wildlife crime, efforts that we shall continue to support. Malawi’s stance is clear – that ivory is not for trade.”
This is the second burn to be postponed in Malawi this year. On 2nd April, Malawi’s first planned destruction of its 4.1 tonne ivory stockpile was also cancelled at the last minute, the reason cited being the need for the inclusion of the ivory being held as part of the Mzuzu case. A date for this is yet to be set.
If the Tanzanian appeal is unsuccessful, the destruction of the ivory from the Mzuzu case will go ahead within 90 days as per the court ruling.