We nominated Brighton Kumchedwa, Director of DNPW Malawi and an LWT trustee, for the prestigious Tusk Conservation Award and he has been chosen as one of the three finalists. The accolade is also a reflection on Malawi’s wider response to the threat serious wildlife crime.
Here’s an article reproduced from the Nation, and you can find out more about the awards here. The winner will be announced in Cape Town in October – keep your fingers crossed!
Kumchedwa eyes African conservation award
The Director for the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), Mr Brighton Kumchedwa, has been announced as a finalist for the ‘Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa’, widely regarded as one of the most prestigious accolades in international conservation circles.
Kumchedwa – who has dedicated his life to conservation through 26 years of service under DNPW – was selected alongside Nachamada Geoffrey, from Nigeria, and Serah Munguti, from Kenya.
“Brighton Kumchedwa is a highly personable, strategic and dedicated conservationist,” Tusk said in their statement. “Brighton’s openness and vision has secured multiple strategic partnerships with NGOs to implement large-scale education and training, alternative livelihoods, park management, combating illegal wildlife trade and wildlife veterinary support programmes.”
Speaking to the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, Prince William praised the five unsung heroes fighting for Africa’s wildlife, saying it was “vital” that the work of both rangers and conservationists was recognised: “We all owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”
Minister of Natural Resources, Energy & Mining, Hon Bright Msaka, was amongst the first to pass on his congratulations. “I am proud of this officer. He is an exemplar of dedication to duty. This is a very deserved recognition.”
Hon Werani Chilenga, Chair of the Natural Resources Committee, said, “He is an outstanding and creative director and we (committee members) have been working with him very well and we hope he wins the top award.”
Kumchedwa said, “The wildlife crisis we are facing is terrifying, but we are in a position to make a difference, before it is too late. That’s what I remind myself every day, and it feels like we are making genuine progress.”
He continued, “When I heard the news of the awards, I was full of excitement. But this isn’t just a recognition of my work, it is for all those working alongside us, especially in the fight against wildlife crime.” “More importantly this is, indeed, victory for Malawi”
Malawi was recently identified as Southern Africa’s principal transit route for illicit ivory trafficking, but the government’s response has been swift and strong.
Initiatives such as the National Parks and Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2017 and Malawi’s first Wildlife Crime Investigation Unit were coordinated by Kumchedwa, and interception and conviction rates for wildlife criminals have increased significantly as a result.
He has secured multiple strategic partnerships with law enforcement agencies and the Judiciary to strengthen law enforcement towards wildlife crime. He has also secured strategic partnerships with NGOs to implement large-scale education and training, alternative livelihoods and wildlife veterinary support programmes as well as playing an instrumental role in negotiating the agreement with African Parks to manage Liwonde and Nkhotakota National Parks.
Kumchedwa was nominated by Lilongwe Wildlife Trust and the application was also supported by African Parks and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), and H.E. Michael Nevin, previously British High Commissioner to Malawi, amongst others. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Cape Town, South Africa, 4th October 2017. For more information on the awards go to www.tuskawards.com.