Within just a few years, the average sentence for ivory trafficking has increased from just a $40 fine to around 4 years. A recent example being that of Reveland Kanyimbo 36, a business man from the Chitipa District in Northern Malawi, found in possession of 2.2kg of ivory. Malawian and Zambian counterparts worked together to apprehend Reveland and he was arrested at Nthalire Trading Centre in Chipita on 23rd August by the police and DNPW. He was found in possession of two ivory tusks and an ivory bangle, a crime which Police Prosecutor Inspector Evans Mtepuka asked the court not to exercise lenience for. Mtepuka stated that ‘an elephant is one of the special wild animals which attracts tourists who rake in revenue to the government. It, therefore, becomes a big loss to the government when one elephant is killed just for it’s ivory.’
LWT’s Wildlife Justice project supported the prosecution of the case through the provision of a court-room monitor and journalist. Reveland was found guilty of being in possession of a government trophy at Chipita Magistrate Court on 28th August 2017. He was given a custodial sentence of 4 years in prison with hard labour and no option of a fine. First Grade Magistrate Julius Kalambo stated that ‘as a judiciary, our role in protecting elephants from the hands of heartless poachers is to give harsh penalty to those accused of killing elephants and those in possession of a specimen like ivory.’ This demonstrates the huge progress being made in Malawi to combat serious wildlife crime. Great work from the DNPW, the Malawi Police Service and the courts!