Malawi is finally set to start burning its ivory stockpile beginning today with the Department of Parks and Wildlife destroying 2.6 metric tonnes that pushed President Peter Mutharika not to torch a K3.8 billion stash in April this year.
The burning ceremony earmarked for Mzuzu Nature Sunctuary comes after the High Court in Mzuzu ordered Patrick and Chancy Kaunda to pay K5 million or spend seven years in jail for being found with ivory concealed under cement bags to beat security.
The convicted brothers escaped imprisonment having paid the country’s record fine for possession of ivory, but the illegal import will go up in flames as the verdict by High Court judge Dingiswayo Madise compels government to confiscate and destroy it within 20 days.
Conspicuously missing at the bonfire worth nearly K5 billion will be the President who earned global acclaim for the intention to burn the 6.6 tonnes of ivory at the commemoration of the World Wildlife Day on April 2.
In an interview, Bright Kumchedwa, director of Parks and Wildlife, said: “The President is still keen to get rid of the ivory, but we’ll start with the Mzuzu stockpile because the court gave us a time limit to destroy it. His Excellency will not be around because the order was specially made to my office.”
During the long-awaited trial, senior State advocate Neverson Chisiza asked the judge to slap the convicts with a K4.5 billion fine and confiscate the truck in which they used to transport the illegal consignment before they were intercepted by Malawi Revenue Authority officials near Bwengu in Mzimba.
In 1989, the United Nations member States, including Malawi, adopted the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), effectively banning the sale of ivory.