The Chinese Embassy in Malawi has joined the country’s ‘Stop Wildlife Crime’ campaign to demonstrate its commitment towards supporting wildlife conservation initiatives in the country.
The campaign was launched in February 2014 as a joint initiative between the Department of National Parks and Wildlife and Lilongwe Wildlife Trust. The Chinese Embassy will now partner the two to place Chinese language materials at the country’s airports and key meeting places.
An SMS (short message service) has also been initiated for Chinese nationals visiting Malawi to inform them of the country’s legislation.
Speaking at a wildlife awareness workshop attended by over 70 leading Chinese businesspeople and residents in Lilongwe on Saturday, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Qingyang said it was everyone’s obligation to participate in the campaign to protect wildlife, thereby contributing to ecological tourism and Malawi’s environmental protection.
“Today, we have celebrated the importance and diversity of Malawi’s wildlife and discussed how we can help to protect it. Promoting understanding of wildlife laws and the repercussions of illegal wildlife trade is just one action we can take.
“Our citizens must not be tricked into buying even a small ivory carving, an act which not only carries the risk of a prison sentence but also contributes to illicit trade that fuels elephant poaching,” said Zhang.
On his part, director of National Parks and Wildlife Brighton Kumchedwa said the ‘Stop Wildlife Crime’ campaign has been a critical tool in raising awareness on Malawi’s resolve to combat the illegal wildlife trade.
Lilongwe Wildlife Trust programmes director Kate Moore said while large ivory seizures were evidence that Malawi was being exploited by organised criminal syndicates, most cases intercepted at the airport involved non-Malawians carrying small quantities of ivory.
“We aim to reduce demand by communicating the negative effects of illegal wildlife trade as well as the local wildlife laws and associated penalties. The Chinese Embassy’s enthusiasm and generosity towards wildlife conservation projects in Malawi is encouraging and we look forward to long-term collaboration,” she said.