Lilongwe Wildlife Trust Responds to New CITES Report

In 2016 Malawi was identified by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) as a ‘country of primary concern’ and Southern Africa’s principal transit hub for ivory trafficking.* In its latest Elephant Trade Information System report, CITES no longer references Malawi in the highest category of concern. Below we comment on this change.

“Lilongwe Wildlife Trust is pleased that Malawi was not specifically referenced as a ‘country of primary concern’ in the latest report from CITES on the Elephant Trade Information System.

This is largely due to progressive action from the Government of Malawi to clamp down on wildlife crime over the last four years. Thanks to its strong campaign of legislative reform and effective enforcement, wildlife criminals can now expect to pay stiff penalties for the illegal trading of animals or animal parts. Last year, for example, average sentences for traffickers rose to four years imprisonment, compared to fines of just c. $40 before the start of the reforms.

However, this victory does not mean that the war has been won. The truth is that ivory trafficking, not to mention other forms of wildlife crime, continue to blight Malawi. The fact that Malawi is still one of the countries required to participate in CITES’ National Ivory Action Plan process is testament to this fact, given that this process essentially puts a spotlight on those nations which play a critical role in global ivory markets.

Lilongwe Wildlife Trust is proud to have partnered with the Government of Malawi on various initiatives to curb wildlife crime since 2015, and we remain committed to this ongoing fight. None of our work would be possible without the support of our network of donors and partners, and we also thank them for their dedication to combatting this abhorrent crime.”

* CITES is an international agreement between governments aimed at protecting wild animals and plants. As a way of strengthening ivory trade controls, supporting law enforcement and improving awareness it identifies countries by way of three categories of concern.