Government says it is committed to ensuring professional standards in developing and implementing wildlife conservation and management programmes for sustainable economic growth in the country.
Minister of Information, Tourism and Culture, Kondwani Nankhumwa said this recently when he presided over the passing out parade of 17 senior parks and wildlife assistants, Liwonde National Park in Machinga, whose aim was to deal with increased cases of poaching and other illegal activities in the protected area.
Nankhumwa said wildlife conservation attracts tourists who bring foreign exchange for the country’s economic growth. He said this is why government emphasizes law enforcement in governing the operations of national parks and game reserves.
He, however, noted that law enforcement is being derailed by the explosion of wildlife crimes across Africa driven by increased consumer demand in China and South East Asia for products made from ivory, rhino horns and others.
The minister noted that Malawi is not spared in this drive, resulting in the declining population of the much affected animals such as elephants and rhinos. He pointed out that Malawi had an elephant population of about 4 000 a few years ago but the numbers have been reduced by almost half.
He said one of the ways to deal with poaching is to have a well-trained workforce as poachers are becoming advanced and aggressive.
“Our rangers need to be equipped with necessary skills to face the poachers,” Nakhumwa said.
Monitoring and evaluation officer for Liwonde National Park, Blessings Msikuwanga, observed that all animals in the national park are vulnerable to poaching as poachers use wire snares which are dangerous to animals.
He said during the 2013/14 fiscal year, the national park lost over 300 animals of different species to poaching.
The African Lion and Environment Research Trust (Alert) and Changeta Wildlife Foundation provided financial and technical support resources towards the training.