The European Union (EU) says it is finalising paperwork that will necessitate the Union to start providing financial support to Malawi Government for fighting wildlife crime.
The EU programme manager Jenny Brown broke the news on the sidelines of the National Elephant Action Plan (NEAP) launch, which took place in Lilongwe on Friday.
“From early next year, EU will start supporting Malawi’s efforts toreverse killings and trafficking of wild animals beginning early 2017 through the EU-funded cross-regional wildlife programme,” said Brown.
She said the EU-funded programme aims to support countries’ efforts to fight wildlife crime through financing anti-poaching initiatives and undercover investigations into criminal networks to protect wildlife species and to establish a sustainable future for them in the wild.
She said the EU is “extremely concerned at the rate of decimation of wildlife not just in Africa, but throughout the rest of the world”.
“EU is convinced of this and is putting as much effort and funding as they can in these areas of which a small portion of that will be this cross-regional initiative that will come on next year,” she explained.
Added Brown: “Malawi will be support through EU-funded cross-regional wildlife programme. Details will start to emerge early next year; we will be in a better position then to let you know exactly what and where and how the programme will roll out.”
Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining chief director (Environment and Climate Change Management)Yanira Mtupanyama said the African elephant is under considerable threat as wildlife crime has exploded across Africa.
Mtupanyama, who made the remarks on behalf of the Minister Bright Msaka, said this crime is largely driven by increasing consumer demand in the Fareast for products made from ivory, rhino horn and other animal body parts.
“In this country for instance, our natural heritage continues to be under unprecedented degradation. As you will agree with me, wildlife crime is on an increase in this country as evidenced by increasing rates of poaching and illegal trafficking of certain key species of fauna and flora among them, elephants,” she explained.
She added that the situation is dire as international crime syndicates are now targeting and exploiting Malawi as a source and transit route for this clandestine activity.
“As a result, Malawi is in danger of losing its wildlife especially iconic species. As a matter of fact, population of elephants has declined by 50 percent in the last 15 years. Rhinos actually went into extinction in Malawi until when they were reintroduced in Liwonde National Park in early, 1990s,” said Mtupanyama.
She said what is obtaining on the ground is that poaching and illegal ivory trade is no longer a conservation issue only, but also a serious threat to the security, political stability, economy, natural resources and cultural heritage of many countries including Malawi.
The Department of National Parks and Wildlife developed NEAP topromote conservation of wildlife in general and elephants in particular.