Nkhota-kota commemorates wildlife day

Nkhota-kota: Some communities around Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve and African Parks on Saturday commemorated World Wildlife Day with a call to protect and preserve predatory animals which are under continuous threat of being wiped out.

Focusing on this year’s theme Big cats: predators under threat, the event brought to attention threats posed to animals in the family of big cats that include a lion, tiger, leopard and cheetah and jaguar.

Speaking on the sidelines of the event, parks manager for Nkhota-kota Wildlife Reserve Sam Kamoto said this year’s theme is key to Malawi because the country has lost almost all of its big cats.

A good example is our reserve here in Nkhota-kota which was once popular because of lions. But now, we do not have even a single lion, Kamoto said about the reserve managed by African Parks.

He added that the big cats are facing a lot of threats coming from poaching and some traditional and cultural beliefs.

Kamoto said: People poach these animals for their skins. The big cats are very charismatic species and some beliefs portray the acquisition of their skins as a sign of prowess and courage.

Locals usually use wire snares and pit traps to poach animals and the situation is almost the same in most protected areas in the country, according to Kamoto.

Vice chairperson for Nkhota-kota District Council Gaziel Chimzere, who was guest of honour at the commemoration, said there is need to intensify awareness activities about the plight of the animals and induce national action in saving wildlife.

In a statement for this year’s commemoration, the secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora says populations of big cats are declining at a disturbing rate due to loss of habitat and prey, conflicts with people, poaching and illegal trade.

For example, tiger populations plummeted to 95 percent over the past 100 years and African lion populations dropped by 40 percent in just 20 years, the statement says

World Wildlife Day is celebrated on 3 March and in Nkhotakota, activities to commemorate the day included drama, poetry from various school wildlife clubs and cultural dances such as gulewamkulu.

Source: Malawi News Agency MANA