Two men have been sentenced to 13 years each in jail for killing an elephant in Nkhotakota Game Reserve. Faliki Simeon, 43, and Thomson Zindo, 56, reportedly entered the reserve without a permit during the month of September 2017. They were carrying an antique rifle which they used to kill an elephant that had just been translocated from Liwonde National park.
Nkhotakota Parks and Wildlife Officials received a tip specifying that an elephant had been killed within the reserve and its tusks had been removed. This was reported to the Nkhotakota police station and a joint operation by officers from wildlife crime investigation unit and police officers from Nkhotakota then ensued, resulting in the arrest of the two men. The rifle was recovered along with the two pieces of ivory weighing at 4 kilograms.
Appearing in court this week the two pleaded guilty to the charges placed against them. Both from Traditional Authority Nthondo in Ntchisi, the men stated during mitigation that they were the breadwinners for their families and aged men. However, state prosecutor Levison Mangani pleaded the court to impose stiff offences in order to deter other potential offenders, declaring that “this malpractice of killing wild species is pulling down the development of this country.” He highlighted that the government spends a great deal on bringing in such species to Malawi’s reserves and that elephants generate foreign currency by encouraging tourist visitation.
Magistrate Fred Juma Chilowetsa sentenced the two men to 13 years in prison without the option of a fine for killing the elephant, plus an additional 7 million kwacha fine for other related issues which would result in a further 13 years jail if not paid.
This sentencing marks another great result thanks to the amended National parks and Wildlife Act, which allows for custodial sentences of up to 30 years to be passed for wildlife poachers. Hopefully this case, along with the recent record sentencing of 18-years at Liwonde Magistrates Court, should act as further deterrents to those involved in illicit wildlife crime.