President Peter Mutharika will this Thursday burn a stockpile of four metric tonnes of ivory impounded from poachers and smugglers as a demonstration of commitment to curb illegal ivory trade.
Through the exercise, Malawi will become the third African country to burn ivory after Kenya and Ethiopia.
Minister of Information, Tourism and Culture Kondwani Nankhumwa said the burning of the ivory is a demonstration that trading in ivory is against the law.
He said the main event will take place outside Parliament Building in Lilongwe.
Nankhumwa said Malawi chose to undertake the exercise on April 2 when the country will be commemorating Wildlife Day at national level. Worldwide, Wildlife Day is commemorated on March 3, which in Malawi is Martyrs Day.
The Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, an organisation that has been campaigning against poaching of elephants in the country, in an interview with our sister newspaper, Weekend Nation, expressed worry that elephants may be driven to extinction within 10 years if current rates of poaching continue.
Jonathan Vaughan, director of the Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, said Malawi is a soft target for traffickers coming from surrounding countries looking to exploit the country’s historically weak law enforcement and use its transport networks to reach the Asian market.
In an interview yesterday, Vaughan said the four tonnes to be burned this Thursday is equivalent to 500 elephants. He said some of the ivory Malawi will burn was impounded from traffickers who were using Malawi as a conduit.
Malawi is said to have a population of slightly over 1 000 elephants. n