The country’s IWT assessment, launched in May 2015, found that legislation of the current National Parks & Wildlife Act (as amended 2004) had weak penalty provisions and ambiguous terminology that made it difficult to enforce.
Many of the countries surrounding Malawi have stepped up their penalties to hand out major fines and substantial prison sentences, sending a clear message that wildlife crime is serious and will be treated as such.
However, Malawi has lagged behind and recent convictions for wildlife related offences in Malawi have been disappointing, with traffickers and poachers ending up with minimal fines. It is now a priority for Malawi to follow suit and improve its legislation.
Lilongwe Wildlife Trust sat on the taskforce for the review of the Act. The taskforce is led by the Ministry of Justice, includes representation from the Department of National Parks & Wildlife (DNPW) and Malawi Police Service Prosecutions and is also supported by the International Environmental Law Project. The project is funded by GIZ.
The taskforce is currently completing a series of consultations, first implementing a quick review of the Act to include clarification of legal definitions and strengthening of penalty provisions, which is expected to go through Parliament by June 2016. A full overhaul is planned for the future.
These consultations are done in four stages and include support and advice from the InterAgency Committee to Combat Wildlife Crime (incorporating twelve law enforcement agencies), the Malawi Parliamentary Conservation Caucus, the Parliamentary Committee for Legal Affairs & National Resources, and wildlife sector stakeholders across the country.