Malawians urged to resist illegal wildlife trafficking

Lilongwe, The Department of National Parks and Wildlife in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining has called upon people in the country to resist getting involved in illegal wildlife trafficking.

In a press statement signed by the Director of National Parks and Wildlife Brighton Kumchedwa, the department said Malawians have a role to play to stop wildlife crime in the country.

The department’s sentiments come amid reports of continued seizure of ivory and rhino horn originating from the country, which the department described as worrisome.

The statement said the department has noted with concern the recent seizures of both ivory and rhino horn in Thailand, China and Vietnam between January and March 2017 originating from Malawi.

“On 29th January, 2017, at Shanghai Pudong Airport in China, customs officials seized two checked baggage containing about 39 kilograms of rhino horn. The contraband was carried by South African Airways via Johannesburg which originated from Kamuzu International Airport,” reads the statement.

Another incident according to the press release happened in Thailand at Suvarnabhumi March 5, where 422 pieces of Ivory weighing 330 kilograms was seized. The shipment is said to have been declared as rough stones and was air freighted from KIA by Ethiopian Airlines via Bole International Airport in Ethiopia.

The statement also indicates an incident which happened recently on March 13, 2017 at Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi Vietnam where about 119 kg of rhino horn stacked in two bags were seized and was carried by Kenyan Airways which also originated from KIA.

It is against this background that the department of wildlife and national parks urges Malawians to take a leading role in fighting wildlife criminals so as to save the image of the country.

“The general public is hereby informed that all the contraband in the three cases above is not from Malawi but probably from other countries. In this particular case Malawi is simply being used as a conduit for the contraband and the trend is worrisome as it continues to dent the good image of Malawi internationally,” reads the statement.

To help fight this, the statement said the department of national parks and wildlife is seriously engaging all security institutions at KIA to get to the bottom of the matter as investigations are at an advanced stage.

The department according to the press release is also making every effort to fight illegal wildlife trade and will continue to do so on top of the scaled up efforts by the department which include counteracting illegal trafficking through establishment and operationalization of an Anti-trafficking unit within the department.

“This task has been made easy with support from the State President Peter Mutharika who has made public pronouncements against illegal wildlife trade,” reads the statement.

Source: Malawi News Agency – MANA