Once an emerging threat, wildlife and forest crime today has transformed into one of the largest transnational organized criminal activities alongside drug trafficking, arms, and trafficking in human beings.
Until the country’s IWT assessment was completed in May 2015, Malawi’s involvement in global illegal wildlife trade was not known, making it impossible to produce an action plan for the country or effectively contribute to international efforts to combat wildlife crime.
The final 260-page Illegal Wildlife Trade Review, commissioned by GIZ and co-authored by Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, used the UNODC ICCWC toolkit to quantify the challenges and develop recommendations for tackling wildlife crime in Malawi.
Malawi was found to be a major trafficking hub for ivory and other illegal wildlife commodities from neighbouring countries, using the country’s weak identification and enforcement to transport the items to demand countries outside the continent. As a result, recommendations in the IWT assessment included strengthening laws, improving wildlife crime data, enhancing interagency collaboration, tackling corruption, sensitizing and training authorities and establishing pro-active wildlife crime investigations.
LWT are now driving forward a number of these initiatives – helping to protect Malawi’s wildlife and contribute to the global fight against illegal wildlife trade, which in itself stands as the greatest threat to endangered species like elephants and rhino, and second only to habitat loss in terms of its impact on wildlife decline as a whole.