Illegal wildlife trade (IWT) is one of the world’s largest transnational organised crimes, alongside trafficking in drugs, arms, and human beings.

Until the country’s IWT assessment was completed in May 2015, Malawi’s involvement in global illegal wildlife trade was unknown, 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. Perpetrators were exploiting the country’s weak identification and enforcement systems to transport items to demand countries outside the continent. As a result, recommendations in the IWT assessment included strengthening laws, improving wildlife crime data, enhancing inter-agency collaboration, tackling corruption, sensitising and training authorities and establishing pro-active wildlife crime investigations.

Lilongwe Wildlife Trust is now driving forward a number of these initiatives, helping to protect Malawi’s wildlife and contribute to the global fight against illegal wildlife trade – 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.

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