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The world is facing a wildlife crisis.
According to figures published by
WWF this year, up to half of the
world’s species have been lost in
the last 40 years - and our duty to
protect our natural heritage is not
just for the sake of the animals. The
state of our fish, wildlife and plant
populations are also a measure
of our ecosystem health and the
delicate balance is crucial for our
very survival. Any single loss of
species can set off a chain reaction
that has far reaching impacts on
everything from agriculture to
climate change.
Whilst some
species loss is natural, this rate of
decline is unprecedented and sadly
much can be attributed to human
Wildlife crime is the largest direct
threat to the future of many of
the world’s threatened species,
second only to habitat loss in terms
of overall threats against species
The UN estimates that
the illegal wildlife trade is worth
over $23 billion worldwide, with
profits ending up in the hands of
a small number of transnational
closely tied to militarised conflict
and corruption. Much investigation
into wildlife crime has focused on

those big species currently at risk of
extinction, specifically tigers, rhinos
and elephants. For example rhino
poaching in South Africa rose from
13 to 1,004 between 2007 and 2013,
an increase of 7,700%. Between
2009 and June 2014 criminal
networks trafficked an estimated 170
tons of ivory, which would equate
to around 230,000 elephants. If
current rates of poaching continue
there will be no elephants left
roaming wild in Africa by 2025, and
elephants have already been driven
to extinction in countries like Sierra
Leone and Senegal. We don’t want
to see Malawi next on that list.
So it’s no surprise that the UN has
picked wildlife crime as the theme
for this month’s World Wildlife Day,
and an apt one for Malawi at that,
since it appears that we have been
targeted by wildlife criminals for
some time.
Malawi a soft target
Why is this? In terms of logistics
Malawi is well positioned between
Selous and Mozambique’s Niassa
provinces, all poaching hotspots
from which ivory needs to be
exported. The extent of corruption
also makes Malawi an attractive

Miles Zidana, Senior Parks & Wildlife Officer, displays confiscated ivory products.

option, even more so since the
Cashgate scandal.
Thirdly the
World Bank ranks Malawi as one
of the world’s poorest countries
and pressing poverty related issues
such as health and education
have taken precedence over the
environment so to some extent it is
understandable why wildlife crime
law enforcement has also been
neglected. To date no-one has
ever been sent to prison for trading
in endangered wildlife products and
the average penalty has been just
$40. Finally in comparison to other
countries our elephant populations
are also significantly smaller –
an estimated 2,344 vs Zambia’s
21,589 according to IUCN’s 2013
Elephant Database report - so the
international wildlife community
has not paid as much attention as
they perhaps should. That is, until
in depth investigations into the
trading networks were conducted.

From elephant to market
The route to market is complex,
requiring cooperation all the way
along the chain.
It starts with

the poacher who in this country
is generally recruited from the
local community. This individual,
or group of individuals, will
incidentally receive a fraction of the
profits in return for slaughtering the
elephant and hacking off his ivory
tusks, often whilst the animal is still
breathing, a crime for which he
could currently receive a ten year
custodial sentence with hard labour.
However there is also a growing and
disturbing trend for the recruitment
of professional syndicates. Highly
trained Mozambican poaching
gangs are responsible for the
decimation of South Africa’s small
rhino population with Kenya being
targeted by Somali poaching gangs
linked to Al-Shabab. Let’s hope
this trend does not hit Malawi, as
local communities around our
national parks already have enough
challenges without facing the
destabilisation and violence that
this scenario will ultimately bring.
Move on up the chain past the local
fixers and you have the transporters,
exporters and importers, the clearing,
shipping and customs agents and in
Malawi’s case the historically weak

law enforcement, customs and
border controls coupled with high
levels of corruption make for an
attractive scenario. For example in
2013, a haul of 781 tusks weighing
2.6 tonnes was intercepted near
Mzuzu, having passed through the
Songwe border and a number of
police checks on the way down
from Tanzania to Lilongwe.
Finally we reach the Asian markets
themselves. Here, the legal and
black markets are blurred, where
raw ivory is generally carved into
trinkets and ornaments which are
then bought as a status symbol
by the rich, and a bizarre one at
that considering what destruction
it represents. China is the biggest
market followed by other East Asian
countries such as Thailand and a
few African countries including
Nigeria and Sudan.
Ivory may
have been traded for centuries
but with elephants on the brink of
extinction within the next decade
it is a trade that must surely stop.
And stopping the demand is a
major challenge for campaigners
who must persuade governments
to amend its legislation as well as



Whilst many of the achievements
deserve congratulations there is
still a long way to go.
For one,
these plans need to be funded,
implemented and upheld in the
years to come and government and
NGO’s, both local and international,
need to continue to collaborate. For
another, whilst the focus is currently
on elephants as a keystone species,
there are many species at risk. Take
our national tree, the Mulanje cedar,
which is close to extinction thanks
to illegal logging. Investigations
have found close links between
the syndicates involved in the illicit
ivory and timber trade and even the
turtle trade that made headlines
last year. As DNPW’s motto goes,
conservation is the responsibility of
every Malawian, and with a handful
of individuals profiting at Malawi’s
vast expense it is time that we all

took heed. So make sure that friends
and family are aware of the gravity
of wildlife crime, never participate
in wildlife trade - whether it’s ivory
bracelets or pet monkeys - and do
your bit for your country by keeping
your eyes and ears open and
reporting any suspicious activity.
Given the clash between the official
date and our own Martyr’s Day, World
Wildlife Day celebrations in Malawi
are now planned for 18th March.
We look forward to seeing the next
moves and the results in this fight
against wildlife crime. The world is
certainly watching.
For more information go to www. If you suspect
wildlife crime please call the hotline
01 759 833 or 088 44 888 999.
Rewards on offer for any information
leading to a conviction.

Minister of tourism and culture Kondwani Nankhumwa responds to a petition asking the Government to ‘say no to ivory’, .

change the attitudes of the end
consumer. An IFAW survey found
that 70% of the Chinese population
falsely believe that an elephant’s
ivory tusks ‘fell out’ and caused
no harm. PR campaigns featuring
famous Chinese celebrities such
as NBA basketballer Yao Ming
are having some impact with the
younger population, but overall it
appears that in the face of scarcity
and the corresponding escalating
price tag (currently triple that
of 2010) the markets are simply
hungry for more. Ivory has long
been a tradition for the Chinese
and there is a legal market which
should be closely controlled by the
government however this does not
seem to be the case. A 2013 report
by ‘Save the Elephants’ concluded
that close to 80% of shops selling
ivory were illegal. But that’s not a
challenge for Malawi at this stage
- we have enough on our hands
stopping the exploitation of our
trade networks and protecting our
own elephant populations.
Moving forward
So what is Malawi doing to
protect itself?
Reflecting back
to World Wildlife Day last March,
Malawi launched its biggest ever

wildlife campaign called ‘Stop
Wildlife Crime. Protect Malawi’s
Wildlife’ - a joint initiative between
the Government’s Department of
National Parks and Wildlife and local
charity Lilongwe Wildlife Trust. The
campaign aimed to raise awareness
about the consequences awaiting
those who turn to wildlife crime
and inspire the general public to
take pride in their natural heritage.
Malawians would struggle to miss it
considering the sustained press, TV
and radio coverage it has received.
have been on the receiving end of
much of the work, with Kamuzu
their overwhelming support in
the crackdown by displaying
billboards, banners, posters and
leaflets and training employees on
the identification of ivory. Thanks
to an injection of funding from the
UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth
Office the campaign has been
extended into 2015 with activity
including a wildlife film, radio
plays and prioritised sensitisation
of communities living around
protected areas as well as authorities
at border posts and checkpoints.
The campaign also aimed to push
wildlife conservation issues onto
the agenda of decision makers, in

Major poaching and trafficking hotspots (Source: C4ADS Database – Ivory’s Curse, Elephant range
data from AfESG’s AED).

particular encouraging a crackdown
on the ivory trade. In October 2014
hundreds marched to present a
3,768 strong petition to the Hon.
Kondwani Nankhumwa, Minister of
Information, Tourism and Culture,
organised by local charities Wildlife
Action Group, Lilongwe Wildlife
Trust, and WESM. The petition
asked the government to ban all
international and domestic ivory
trade, destroy ivory stockpiles,
invest in anti-poaching and border
force training and strengthen and
implement strict penalties on all
persons involved in the illegal wildlife
trade. The Minister responded with
concrete commitments, some of
which are already underway. The
petition has since been renewed
in light of key decisions being
made this month and at time of
writing organisers had collected
an additional 2,400+ signatures.
As a result of international press
organisers were also approached to
add their voice to a letter asking for
an end to the ivory trade that was
presented to the Chinese president
on 19th February, ahead of visit
from the UK’s Prince William next
month. One week later the Chinese
government declared a one year
ban on ivory imports.
Of course, it takes a lot more than
a marketing campaign, a march
and a public plea for change to
save Malawi’s elephants and there
have been some significant steps
forward behind the scenes at
Government level. The recently
completed illegal wildlife trade
assessment has thrown light on the
true picture of the extent of wildlife
crime in the country as well as
competencies and shortfalls. Last
month’s initiation of a National
Elephant Action Plan should map
out a single collaborative approach
with measurable results under
the leadership of the Department
of National Parks and Wildlife.
The establishment of an interagency committee has improved
communications between the
various law enforcement authorities
and the wildlife policy is currently
being reviewed.
In the past month, record sentences
have been passed as the authorities
have used all their powers to make
examples of wildlife criminals and
it is anticipated that the law will
change shortly to reflect the impact
of their crimes on the nation. A
living elephant is estimated to be
worth 76 times more to African
economies in terms of tourism in
comparison to the dividends of a
dead elephant and its ivory.

The first ever World Wildlife Day was held in March 2014. We
look back on some of the highlights in Malawi’s fight against
wildlife crime led by the Department of National Parks &

‘Stop Wildife Crime. Protect Malawi’s Wildlife’
campaign launched in partnership with Lilongwe Wildlife
Trust. Funded by FCO. Includes 6000+ signature
petition to say no to ivory.


Inter-Agency Committee to Combat Wildlife Crime
(IACCWC) established with representation from MPS,
DNPW, ACB, FIU, MRA, Department of Forestry, NIB, MDF
and Interpol.


Illegal wildlife trade assessment completed for
Malawi in accordance with the UNODC Toolkit on
Wildlife and Forest Crime. Funded by GIZ and run in
partnership with Lilongwe Wildlife Trust.


Legal review of the National Parks and Wildlife Act
2004 underway to strengthen legislation and appraise
compliance with CITES Legislation Project.


Wildlife Policy Review in progress. Funded by UNDP


Law enforcer training programme commenced.
Supported by RSPCA through DEFRA/DFID Challenge
Fund grant.


National Elephant Action Plan kick off as part of the
Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI). Funded by Stop Ivory
and supported by Wildlife Conservation Society.


Record sentences handed out to poachers and wildlife
traffickers including the biggest custodial sentences to
date and maximum fines of MK 1,000,000.


Moratorium on the domestic trade in ivory in Malawi
enforced in Sept 2014 as part of Malawi’s commitment to
the Global Clinton Initiative.


Ivory inventory completed in accordance with CITES
requirements and as part of the EPI.




2014 was a tough year for African
tourism. Much of the Ebola media
hysteria lumped West and East
Africa together as if it were a single
country resulting in a sharp decline
in tourism across the continent. In
Tanzania for example, 2015 bookings
plummeted fifty percent. Terrorism
headlines also hit countries like
Kenya hard, and our neighbours
Tanzania and Mozambique could
well be next on the list of countries
to avoid.
Still, the pull of Africa remains
strong for many and the sad loss
of other countries could be our
gain. Malawi is generally perceived
as a safe country for travel thanks
to its warm, friendly people and
comparatively peaceful history.
Our reputation had a big boost last
year after being named on the top
ten destination lists for both Lonely
Planet and CNN as well as the top
emerging destination for 2015 by
the Huffington Post.
According to the World Bank,
tourism is one of the largest and
fastest growing sectors of the world’s
economy. The number of tourists
arriving in Sub-Saharan Africa have
grown 300% since 1990 and 33.8
million tourists visited the region in
2012 representing over $36 billion
in revenue. Tourism contributes
up to 13% of the GDP of countries
like Botswana and Tanzania with
wildlife tourism holding the biggest
allure, representing 80% of the total
annual sales of African trips. Again
Malawi has potential here in spades

– mountains, plateaus, forests,
national parks, the famous lake of
stars, and now the iconic ‘Big Five’.
Could wildlife tourism be Malawi’s
golden ticket? Not if we don’t stop
the exploitation and plunder of
our natural resources. Along with
habitat destruction, wildlife crime
is impacting wildlife populations
the world over and in this case
Malawi definitely cannot claim a
competitive advantage. With the
5th highest rate of deforestation in
the world and wild animal numbers
dwindling thanks to unsustainable
poaching, our ‘product’ is vanishing
Poaching has a deteriorating
effect on the tourism experience.
Chances to observe wildlife are
diminished because of reduced
wildlife populations and changes in
animal behaviour as they become
more skittish at the sight of the
human that has killed so many of its
companions. Add to this negative
sightings of barren landscapes,
poached carcasses or captive wild
animals on sale and Malawi is not
the warm, wild and wonderful
destination the traveller had hoped
for. Without wildlife to see, there will
be no tourists, and with that a loss
of income, job opportunities and
the much needed forex boost this
economy needs.
Some of you may remember
Kasungu in its heyday, teeming
with so much wildlife that we were
able to send stock to South Africa’s
famous Kruger National Park. Now

those 2000 strong elephant herds of
the 1980’s are down to an estimated
58 according to latest counts. Whilst
all our wildlife needs protection
elephants are surely the most iconic
loss facing us. If poaching continues
at current rates there will be none
left in the wild by 2025.
This is not just a tragedy for people
who love animals or care about the
environment. When elephants are
slaughtered for their ivory and trees
are illegally logged, biodiversity is
lost, ecosystems break down and
the world’s poorest often bear the
brunt of the fallout. Seventy-five
percent of the world’s poor live
in rural areas, and rely on healthy
ecosystems for food, shelter and
livelihoods, and this includes many
of Malawi’s own 16.5 million people.
significantly more motivated to
protect wildlife from poachers and
habitats from degradation if they
see the direct benefits of tourism for
themselves. To say that tourism and
wildlife now depend on each other
to survive is an oversimplification
given the clear link between
biodiversity and other sectors such
as agriculture and human health.
But tourism is the easiest economic
association that can be made to
so many wildlife species and in
particular the elephant, currently
facing extinction thanks to human
Alive, elephants benefit local
Dead, they benefit criminal and

even terrorist groups. A single living
elephant drives tens of thousands of
dollars in tourism-related revenues
along a whole chain of people
from the lodge waiter and local
rural tradesmen through to the car
rental companies and the aviation
industry. Given the overlap of ivory
poaching locations and elephant
tourism operations, every elephant
killed makes these regions much
less profitable.
So instead of a Malawi without
wildlife and tourism, let’s imagine a
positive future. Where it’s not just
the conservationists and the tourism
industry taking action because their
core ‘business’ relies on wildlife,
but where everyone from our
local communities through to

Government and private sector see
the value in protecting our natural
heritage. That they take decisions
not just on the money they could
take for themselves today, but that
they and the rest of their countrymen
could all reap tomorrow. Where our
wildlife populations flourish and pull
in visitors from all over the world,
who travel around the country to
visit our awesome natural wonders
- from the zebras and orchids on
Nyika plateau and the cedar forests
of Mount Mulanje to Liwonde’s
elephant herds and Majete’s Big 5
- spending their dollars as they go
and giving our economy the boost
we so desperately need. The future
is in our hands.




Whilst we have achieved some tremendous results
in the last year, wildlife conservation is heading
towards a crisis that requires collaboration, grit and
determination. The fight has only just begun.

Wildlife criminals can now expect prison sentences
– up to 10 years with hard labour. The current fines
do not reflect the severity of the crime.

Mr Brighton Kumchedwa,
Director of National Parks & Wildlife

Mr Chisomo Msokera,
Senior Resident Magistrate,
Lilongwe and Chair of IWC
Interagency Committee

Tourism needs wildlife and our economy needs
tourism. Tourism brings in money, create jobs
and improve the livelihoods of local communities.
Malawi will not be beaten by a handful of wildlife

My message to wildlife criminals is this: we will find
you and we will prosecute you. We will not allow
you to destroy our natural heritage.
Mr Levison Mangani,
Central Region Assistant Commissioner
of Police for Prosecution

Mrs Patricia Liabuba,
Director of Tourism

“ Malawi’s commitment to the global fight against
the illegal wildlife trade has been noticed in the UK
and elsewhere. Obviously more needs to be done,
but if there is demonstrable commitment, then
Malawi will have friends in support.

If you are thinking of trafficking ivory or any other
wildlife artefacts through our airport then you
should think twice. We are waiting for you.
Mr Donnie Chimtengo,
Airport Commandant, KIA

His Excellency, Mr Michael Nevin,
British High Commissioner

‘The German government is committed to
supporting Malawi in its fight against poaching and
protecting biodiversity’

Don’t look the other way whilst our forests are
destroyed and our wild animals are slaughtered for
the benefit of foreigners.
Sally Nyundo,

Dr Peter Woeste,
German Ambassador

“So long as we continue to renege our sacred duty
to steward and protect God’s creation, our worship
of God will remain anaemic.”

Biodiversity loss will ultimately impact on human
wellbeing, from crop failure and food shortages to
disease. Prioritising wildlife conservation, whether
it’s protecting habitats or tackling wildlife crime, is
crucial for a sustainable future.

Sean Kampondeni,
Pastor, Lilongwe

Mr Jonathan Vaughan,
Director, Lilongwe Wildlife Trust

Work is tough on the ground. People come with guns
and they kill these elephants so brutally, sometimes
hacking off their tusks before they are even dead.
But we are not scared of them.

If our elephants keep getting poached for their ivory
like this then we will have to show pictures of them
to our children in history books
School children,
Bambino school

Aphety Namani ,
Scout, DNPW

It is the responsibility of every Malawian to protect our wildlife. Here’s how you can help:

animal or their parts. It’s against the law if you don’t

have a licence from DNPW.

SPEAK OUT about the wildlife crisis with
friends and family. Encourage kids to join their
school’s wildlife club.

REPORT any suspicious activity – 01759 833 or
088 44 88 999. Rewards for any information leading to a •

JOIN IN Malawi’s Wildlife Day celebrations on
Wednesday 18th March.

ENTER our poster competition.

SIGN the petition to ‘say no to ivory’.

Find out more at

FOLLOW our campaign on Facebook.

LEARN about wildlife with a visit to Lilongwe
Wildlife Centre.