Director of National Parks and Wildlife Brighton Kumchedwa has bemoaned continued cases of elephant poaching in the country’s National Parks and Game Reserves and the illegal ivory trafficking.
Kumchedwa was reacting to reports that last Sunday, police in Machinga arrested three men for being found in possession of four pieces of ivory weighing 42 kilograms.
The three confessed to have killed an elephant from Liwonde National Park to obtain the ivory.
Speaking in an interview, Machinga police publicist Davie Sulumba said the three, James Mwera 38, Mabvuto Giniford, 18, and Dominic Siza Nyirongo 24, were arrested while trying to find a market for the ivory which is valued at K36 million ($50 350).
Kumchedwa said this demonstrates that poaching is a huge problem not only in Malawi but Africa as a whole.
He outlined some of the efforts being put in place to curb the crime which he described as highly organized, transnational, with low risks but brings in very high returns.
He said from 2014 the department of National Parks has strengthened its efforts to fight by enforcing the law and employing and training more rangers, placing of wildlife border control officers at the ports of entry and exist, training of wildlife investigators, and setting up a specialized wildlife crimes investigations unit.
“With these efforts, we will be able to spot those crimes that go undetected. The pleasing thing is that there is indeed a rising trend of custodial sentences with no option of fine handed by the courts,” said Kumchedwa.
He added that as an authority responsible for wildlife Management in the country they will continue with efforts aimed at reducing wildlife crimes and also expedite the completion of amendment of wildlife law.
Said Kumchedwa: “The law on enforcement and prosecution of wildlife cases need to be based on stringent wildlife Act not as is the case now.”
In the past three months the department has recorded over 20 cases connected to poaching for ivory and illegal trafficking of ivory in Mangochi, Nkhotakota, Mchinji, Machinga and Lilongwe City just to mention but a few.
Elephant poaching and ivory trafficking is the fourth largest crime in the world.