PROMOTING CONSERVATION JUSTICE
We are a force for justice, campaigning for an end to illegal wildlife trade and other environmental crimes.
In 2016 Malawi was identified as Southern Africa’s principal transit hub for illegal wildlife products, due to its porous borders, weak legislation and poor law enforcement. Since then, LWT has supported government agencies on a range of initiatives that have have made it tougher for wildlife criminals to operate within and beyond Malawi’s borders.
Wildlife policy and law
LWT co-led the taskforce that updated the National Parks & Wildlife Act to provide greater protections for Malawi’s wildlife and stronger penalties for wildlife criminals. The Act was passed in February 2017 – the fastest passing of any amendment bill in the history of Parliament, thanks in part to advocacy undertaken by the Malawi Parliamentary Conservation Caucus, for which LWT is Secretariat. We also supported the development of subsidiary wildlife regulations associated with the amended Act. In 2019, Malawi’s wildlife legislation was assessed as being among the strongest in the world.
Building capacity to deliver justice
LWT is committed to building knowledge and capacity for investigators and prosecutions. Working in partnership with legal experts, we have developed a series of tools designed to equip agencies and individuals with the knowledge and skills to more effectively enforce conservation law. These tools include guidelines on sentencing, support with applying for Mutual Legal Assistance and a comprehensive analysis of the legislation that is available to combat wildlife crime in Malawi.
Other initiatives include supporting the Government’s court and case monitoring programmes and helping to forge regional partnerships to coordinate efforts with neighbouring countries. We also work closely with local communities to raise awareness of the threats that environmental crimes pose to the country, sensitise them to new legislation, support them in law enforcement initiatives and engage them in direct conservation activities.
The Wildlife Detection Dog Unit is a partnership between the Malawi Police Service and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, supported by Lilongwe Wildlife Trust. The unit deters and disrupts illegal wildlife trade activity, specifically around the transportation of contraband, by conducting searches at airports and other key transit hubs. It also carries out intelligence-led operations to unearth hidden illegal wildlife products.