Malawi was recently confirmed as Southern Africa’s principal transit hub for illegal wildlife products – a key link in a chain of poaching, trafficking and demand that is threatening some of Africa’s most iconic species with extinction. Some of the world’s biggest ivory seizures have been linked back to Malawi, which is positioned centrally in a regional poaching hotspot and, up until recently, organised criminal syndicates could operate with relative impunity within the country’s borders. In response, LWT co-authored the country’s Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) Review which outlined the drivers and extent of IWT in Malawi and made a series of recommendations to strengthen the criminal justice system. These recommendations have formed the basis of the projects below. You can download the full report here.
Our mission is to work in Malawi with local government and like-minded organisations to deliver collaborative enforcement initiatives that stop the illegal killing and trade of wildlife, focusing on trafficking over poaching.
LWT led the task force that updated the National Parks & Wildlife Act. It was passed in February 2017 – the fastest passing of any amendment bill in the history of Parliament. We are currently strengthening other wildlife policies and laws, for example amending the wildlife regulations. LWT believe that a strong legal framework underpins the enforcement of wildlife crime.
Wildlife trafficking is decimating already endangered populations in Malawi and beyond. LWT support specialist anti-trafficking enforcement units in the Department National Parks and Wildlife and the Malawi Police Service. These units work to combat serious wildlife crime regionally. LWT also incentivize local communities to engage in wildlife law enforcement and promote conservation.
Strong laws and successful investigations are non-deterrent unless a wildlife criminal is adequately sentenced in the courts. LWT works to ensure this happens through operating a court monitoring programme and being one of the only NGOs in Africa to have a Government mandate to privately prosecute serious wildlife crimes. For more information on why this project is important and the impact it is having please read our latest report.
Malawi is the principle transit hub for wildlife trafficking in Southern Africa and trafficking detection rates were extremely low. Detection Dogs, that are specifically trained to intercept illicit wildlife products, help border police and customs to detect and seize wildlife contraband, arrest wildlife criminals and disrupt trafficking syndicates.